Dr Emma Wise

Research fellow in virology

Emma is a research fellow at the University of Surrey, exploring the differential targeting of the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) vhs endoribonuclease. HSV-1 is a widespread human pathogen that has major health and economical impacts in both developing and developed countries, and infection is a leading cause of newborn mortality in the developing world. Emma holds a PhD in virology, an MSc in medical immunology and a BSc in biological sciences.

Emma completed her PhD in 2020, working with Public Health England in collaboration with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation. Her research focussed on identifying viruses in the blood of febrile patients from Ecuador and Sierra Leone, using a combination of metagenomic sequencing, PCR and virus isolation. This work confirmed for the first time the presence of Oropouche virus, an emerging vector-borne human pathogen, in the human population in Ecuador, and highlighted the utility of next generation sequencing technologies in surveillance and control of emerging and re-emerging viruses.

Prior to her PhD, Emma worked on zoonotic viruses, primarily rabies and rabies-related viruses, at the Animal and Plant Health Agency, UK. The majority of human pathogens are zoonotic in origin, and significant outbreaks of human disease that occurred in recent decades, including HIV, avian influenza, swine influenza, SARS, and Ebola, all have zoonotic origins. This highlights the importance of understanding both the biology of zoonotic viruses and the drivers for their emergence in human populations. Finally, it illustrates the importance of the One Health concept: that human and animal health are interdependent and linked to the health of the ecosystems in which they exist. Emma has expertise in working with containment level two and three viruses, molecular virology, diagnostic development, working in outbreak environments, next generation sequencing and viral genomics.