Viral Emergence Research Initiative (Verena)

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Today we present an ongoing project within the lab! The missive below goes into greater detail about the Verena (Viral Emergence Research Initiative) Biology Integration Institute, a collaboration between many scientists of many backgrounds intending to discover more about the science of the host-virus network. Led by Georgetown University, this initiative will involve affiliate faculty member Dr. Anna Fagre, as well as Greg working to greater explore the “interactions between bats and mosquitoes… whether bats can serve as a reservoir or amplification hosts for arboviruses in nature.” Dr. Susan VandeWoude, dean of CVMBS, will serve on the institute’s science policy advisory board.Anna is also working on a podcast through the initiative, which will aim to explore efforts by early-career scientists working on viruses. It’s multi-disciplinary approaches to science and public interaction, like these, that further both our understanding of the world around us as well as the goal of aiding public understanding into what exactly we do in these strange buildings called laboratories.

This article, via cvmbs.source from 2022, goes into more detail.


Xenosurveillance On NPR

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Howdy, Ebel Lab Fans!

Xenosurveillance has been an ongoing project in the lab for many years. The goal has been to bring low-cost, noninvasive surveillance into resource-poor and vulnerable settings, including Senegal, Liberia and most recently Guatemala. The effort has involved several trainees including Doug Brackney, Nathan Grubaugh, Joseph Fauver, James Weger-Lucarelli, Claudia Ruckert, Bekah McMinn, Delaney Worthington,  Emma Harris, and a range of collaborators including Brian Foy, Dan Olson and Valeria Scorza. The project has been funded by the US Department of Defense, the CSU Office of the Vice President for Research and One Health Institute and the US National Institutes of Health.

It’s great to see xenosurveillance and community efforts around disease-monitoring getting attention on a large platform, and a pleasant reminder that science need not happen within a vacuum. Viruses don’t care about borders, and nor should our efforts at disease monitoring and prevention.

The article (also available in audio format on the same page):

An Update!

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Hello, Ebel Lab Science Enthusiasts!

Admittedly, it’s been some time since our last post. There’s this whole pandemic ~thing~ that we all got caught up in. We got busy.

As we move into 2023, we thought it prudent to do a kind of retrospective on Ebel Lab-folk-in-the-news before continuing on with your regularly scheduled programming. These posts are by no means an exhaustive list of the goings-on about the lab, but a brief primer on what you may have missed these past tumultuous years.

– Here, you will find a link to Greg being interviewed about WNV evolution and xenosurveillance for the American Society for Microbiology’s “Meet the Microbiologist” podcast:

The interview begins with an excellent and succinct definition of xenosurveillance, then goes on to cover RNAi, viral replication within mosquitoes as a vector, WNV transmission, viral genetics, the list goes on. There’s a lot of good information within the conversation, and it serves as an excellent introduction to the kinds of work we’re invested in. There’s also great information within the show notes below the player, if you’re the kind of learner who prefers their information in a text-based format.

The show is a regular source of good information, so give them a follow/subscribe!

Image via: American Society for Microbiology, accessed 18 Jan. 2023, < >












SARS-CoV-2 Nextstrain build

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Nextstrain is an open source project using genomic epidemiology to perform real-time tracking of pathogen evolution. The goal is to improve epidemiological understanding and outbreak response using openly shared data from research groups around the world.

This build, which incorporates data from the Ebel lab and which is based on the work of Cole Jensen and Anderson Brito of the Grubaugh Lab (Yale School of Public Health), uses genetic data and metadata of SARS-CoV-2 that has been openly shared by many research groups.

Ebel lab undergraduate research assistant Parker Cline was instrumental to this collaboration. See his contribution below, as well as a link to the Nextstrain project main page.

DISCLAIMER: These builds use preliminary data.

How genetic sequencing is helping solve the mystery of coronavirus’ spread through Colorado nursing homes

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The Ebel lab’s COVID-19 surveillance work was again featured in the Colorado Sun. The project, a collaboration with Nicole Ehrhart and CSU’s Healthy Aging Center, is beginning to reveal clues about how SARS-CoV-2 spreads within skilled nursing facilities across the state. From the article:

“The team is among the first in the state to attempt to track the spread of the coronavirus by conducting genomic sequencing — the painstaking process of reading the virus’ genetic code. By looking for slight mutations in the code, researchers can create something of a family tree, showing which cases are closely related and which are more distantly separated.

And, though they still have plenty of work to do, the researchers’ data — gathered from dozens of samples from infected workers at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities — are showing a clear trend.”

Streets near Frasier Meadows, left, a campus of senior apartments and skilled nursing care in Boulder, are marked for the safety of older residents in the neighborhood. The doors at the complex are closed to visitors because of fears about the coronavirus. During a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility, three cases of the illness were confirmed among residents, and eight cases were confirmed or suspected among staff. No deaths were reported at the facility. (Dana Coffield, The Colorado Sun)


“Nicole Sexton, a postdoctoral fellow in Ebel’s lab, did much of the tedious work. Overall, she said, there wasn’t much variation between any of the samples. That’s to be expected because coronaviruses contain proofreading mechanisms to limit the natural mutations that occur as the virus replicates.

But what little variation there was showed a distinct pattern.

‘What we saw is within facilities a lot of the same sequence, whereas within different facilities, they had a different sequence,” she said. “It does look like, with the data we have so far, that they really are clustering within the same facility.'”

With thanks to Colorado Sun reporter John Ingold!

Colorado will test for coronavirus at every nursing home every week for 8 weeks

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The Ebel lab’s SARS-CoV-2 collaboration with CSU’s Healthy Aging Center was recently featured on CPR. With support from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE), the coronavirus surveillance testing effort will soon expand rapidly to long-term care facilities around the state. From the article:

“The new study will help paint a picture of how COVID-19 spreads in complex facilities like residential nursing homes. Both state officials and researchers hope that the testing could mark a turning point in controlling COVID-19 in the beleaguered facilities.

Through this new effort, CDPHE and CSU will administer around 45,000 nose swab tests. These will be performed on staff members and some residents that are permitted to leave the facility during the lockdown for essential health appointments.

“The idea is to catch people as they become positive and then isolate them,” Erhart said.”

With thanks to CPR reporter Lindsay Fendt!

Dr. Emily Gallichotte featured on CBS Denver

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Dr. Emily Gallichotte was featured recently on CBS Denver’s “Good Question” segment. A listener asked whether SARS-CoV-2 could be transmitted through mosquito bites, and CBS Denver reached out to Dr. Gallichotte for more information. From the interview:

“In science we want to be very cautious. All of the evidence from WHO and CDC and every expert in the field says it is essentially no,” says post-doctoral research scientist Emily Gallichotte.

“Mosquitoes aren’t just syringes that transfer blood possibly with virus from one person to another. It takes that blood, it gets into their gut and then it has to survive seven days at least to make its way and replicate through the mosquito’s body and end up in the saliva to then be transferred to that next person.”

Find the full segment and more information on the CBS Denver website. With big thanks to Alan Gionet for giving our lab an opportunity to answer such timely questions!


CSU team finds dozens of asymptomatic nursing home workers infected with coronavirus

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The Ebel lab’s SARS-CoV-2 surveillance work in Colorado long-term care facilities has been featured in the ColoradoanFrom the article:

“The facilities, used to taking precautions against things like seasonal flu outbreaks, seemed to be doing everything right. No visitors were allowed in. Employees of the five Denver metro area living communities were screened for coronavirus symptoms each day they reported to work. Management was following guidance from the state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But as the test results came back, it became clear that dozens of infected workers were showing no symptoms at all. Of 462 employees tested in the first two months of the Colorado State University project, 57 people (about 12.3%) were coronavirus-positive but had no symptoms. The positive rate at the five facilities ranged between 1% and 23%.

“Most people in our study who are virus positive are not sick,” said Ebel, a CSU professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology whose lab processed the tests. “And they’re really virus-positive. They’re not just kind of, a little bit positive. There is no doubt that they’re very positive and capable of transmitting.””

Greg Ebel, left, and Nicole Ehrhart, right, are collaborating on a Colorado State University project to test asymptomatic employees of skilled nursing facilities for coronavirus.

Greg Ebel, left, and Nicole Ehrhart, right, are collaborating on a Colorado State University project to test asymptomatic employees of skilled nursing facilities for coronavirus. (Photo: Courtesy of Colorado State University)


With thanks to Coloradoan City Government Reporter Jacy Marmaduke!

SARS-CoV-2 surveillance testing featured in the Colorado Sun

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The Ebel lab’s SARS-CoV-2 surveillance work in Colorado long-term care facilities has been featured in the Colorado Sun. From the article:

“A brainstorming call sparked the connection. Soon, Ehrhart and Ebel had a plan in place with Lakewood-based Vivage Senior Living to test workers at five Vivage facilities in Colorado. And, most importantly, they were going to test the workers over and over again.

“What is unique about this testing versus pretty much anything we’ve seen so far is we are testing people weekly,” Ehrhart said.

That would give the researchers insight into the virus’s spread and how long workers remain infected. It would give the facilities an early warning that a worker was sick and a precise idea when the worker could come back to work. Most importantly, it would help keep the facilities’ residents safe — and their staff.

“Health care workers are this really critical, finite resource that needs to be protected,” Ebel said.”

Research at CSU shows why testing only symptomatic people won’t stop coronavirus in Colorado

With big thanks to John Ingold!

Ebel lab’s SARS-CoV-2 surveillance efforts featured in the Dallas Morning News

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The Ebel lab’s SARS-CoV-2 surveillance work in Colorado long-term care facilities has been featured in the Dallas Morning News. From the article:

“In Colorado, Connecticut and Washington such efforts have been underway, identifying asymptomatic carriers and isolating them so they will not spread the disease to coworkers or residents.

Over the last two months, a lab run by Colorado State University microbiology professor Greg Ebel tested 462 nursing home workers in Colorado to gauge whether workers without symptoms were silently carrying the virus. The lab identified 57 people who tested positive but had no symptoms.

“This kind of surveillance is extraordinarily valuable to these vulnerable communities to help reduce risks,” Ebel said.”

With thanks to  and .