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Paul leading the fight against killer viruses

Paul Duprex is making waves across the pond as a virus-taming scientist, having started his journey in King’s Park Primary School.

The Lurgan native is currently an associate professor at Boston University, USA, where he is conducting research on viruses, following a life-long fascination with science.

During his King’s Park days, Paul recalls nature walks in Lurgan Park where he studied tadpoles in the lake, and the ‘chaos’ in the classroom on Monday morning after the tadpoles had spent the weekend transforming into frogs.

As a student at Lurgan College, Paul first realised his curiosity for microbiology, after experimenting with his fellow classmates. Paul would take bacteria from his classmates’ mouths, grow it in petri dishes in an old incubator, and attempted to find out which toothpaste was best at killing the bacteria.

Emerging from Lurgan College with even greater enthusiasm for the subject, Paul graduated from Queen’s University, Belfast, with a joint degree in Biochemistry and Genetics, as well as a PhD in Virology. Paul then worked as a senior lecturer at Queen’s for more than 16 years, whilst being employed by multinational drug and baby product company, Johnston and Johnston.

Paul now works as a molecular virologist at the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) in Boston University, having conducted research across a wide field of viruses and infectious diseases. After being invited to tour the NEIDL facilities, Paul was hooked; he was ecstatic to have the opportunity to work in ‘space-suit virology’, studying diseases from all over the world in a state-of-the-art, earthquake-proof building. Paul’s fascination with the genetic engineering of viruses led him, together with his research group, to focus on understanding how viruses such as measles and mumps cause disease, how vaccines work and how they can be improved.

One of his key areas of expertise is Ebola, the virus disease which broke out across countries in Western Africa at the beginning of this year. The current global death toll for Ebola now stands at more than 1,200 people, making Paul’s research and commentary on the virus all the more crucial in 2014. While there has been a lot of discussion amongst Paul’s fellow virology scientists as to whether or not viruses as dangerous as Ebola should be worked with in laboratories, Paul believes it is critical for laboratories to work with such viruses in order to develop vaccinations.

More information about Paul’s work can be found online at www.twiv.tv/threading-the-neidl

 
 
 

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