Yi Guan talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Fast Breaking Paper Paper in the field of Clinical
Article Title: Origins and evolutionary genomics of the
2009 swine-origin H1N1 influenza A epidemic
Authors: Smith, GJD;Vijaykrishna, D;Bahl, J;Lycett, SJ;Worobey,
M;Pybus, OG;Ma, SK;Cheung, CL;Raghwani, J;Bhatt, S;Peiris,
JSM;Guan, Y;Rambaut, A
Journal: NATURE, Volume: 459, Issue: 7250, Page: 1122-U107,
Year: JUN 25 2009
* Univ Edinburgh, Ashworth Labs, Inst Evolutionary Biol, Kings
Bldg, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, Midlothian, Scotland.
* Univ Edinburgh, Ashworth Labs, Inst Evolutionary Biol,
Edinburgh EH9 3JT, Midlothian,
(addresses have been truncated.)
Why do you think your paper is highly cited?
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or synthesis of
H1N1 is the first human influenza pandemic of the 21st century. Obviously,
our paper has been highly cited due to the fact that the 2009 pandemic
influenza virus is still an ongoing concern. Our paper answered the
question of how and where the H1N1 pandemic virus was generated. These are
new findings which convey a detailed understanding of the 2009 H1N1
Would you summarize the significance of your paper
in layman's terms?
"Pandemic influenza outbreaks pose a significant threat
to public health worldwide"
Our findings demonstrated the evolutionary pathway of the 2009 H1N1 virus
and described, step by step, how it was generated.
How did you become involved in this research, and
were there any problems along the way?
All findings generated by this project were based on our long-term
influenza surveillance in Hong Kong. Our lab is the only lab in the world
to have more than 10 years of continuing influenza surveillance data on
pigs. This offers an ideal opportunity to answer where and how the pandemic
influenza virus emerged.
As the PI for the influenza surveillance program, it is my duty to get the
data interpreted properly. In this regard, my colleague Dr. Andrew Rambaut
of the University of Edinburgh's Institute of Evolutionary Biology Ashworth
Lab used his ample experience in the usage of modern bioinformatic
knowledge in order to obtain insights into the evolution of the H1N1 virus.
Where do you see your research leading in the
I am going to continue our surveillance study. This is essential to
understanding the viruses which possess human infectious potential, with
the precondition being to outline the steps of a basic preparedness for
pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases.
Do you foresee any social or political
implications for your research?
Pandemic influenza outbreaks pose a significant threat to public health
worldwide. Certainly, at least, people do understand and believe that
pandemic influenza virus is derived from those viruses residential in
animals and that the pandemicity of an influenza virus may, in fact, take
many years to dissipate.
Yi Guan, M.D. and Ph.D.
State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases
The University of Hong Kong
Pokfulam, Hong Kong, PRC
KEYWORDS: MULTIPLE SEQUENCE ALIGNMENT; UNITED-STATES; GENETIC REASSORTMENT;
VIRUSES; PIGS; INFECTION; TRANSMISSION.