The Biology of Virus Spillover

Sara L. Sawyer, Ph.D.

BioFrontiers Institute
University of Colorado Boulder

The Biology of Virus Spillover

Sara L. Sawyer, Ph.D.

BioFrontiers Institute
University of Colorado Boulder

We study animal viruses that infect humans.  We are now deeply engaged in the fight against the emergent virus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.  We also study HIV (which came from chimps) and dengue viruses (which came from monkeys), but have published research on the spillover of many other animal viruses as well.

Understanding spillover is critical for predicting and controlling viral epidemics, and it also provides an outstanding example of evolution in action that informs us about biology more generally. After years of studying this topic, we now find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic caused by a spillover virus.