Bioethics Blogs

From Ebola Researchers, An Anthem of Hope

One Truth Video screenshot

After watching this music video, you might wonder what on earth it has to do with biomedical science, let alone Ebola research. The answer is everything.

This powerful song, entitled “One Truth,” is dedicated to all of the brave researchers, healthcare workers, and others who have put their lives on the line to save people during the recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease. What’s more, it was written and performed by seven amazing scientists—one from the United States and six from West Africa.

The song’s main composer Pardis Sabeti, MD, DPhil, an NIH-funded New Innovator at the Broad Institute of Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, is a leading expert on using genomic data to uncover clues about the origin and evolution of emerging viruses, including Ebola. The African researchers singing along with Sabeti came to Boston this summer to learn Ebola surveillance methods—training made possible by the Human Health and Heredity in Africa (H3Africa) Initiative in which NIH is a partner. These scientists are now back in their home nations of Nigeria and Senegal, working hard to help fight this deadly disease.

But that’s not the only connection this song has to Ebola. Sabeti and her research team had been doing research on Lassa fever in West Africa for some time. When Ebola made its appearance in Sierra Leone this year, Sabeti turned her attention to the outbreak, using genomic sequencing to track the spread of the disease. Working with her friend and colleague, Sheik Humarr Khan of the Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone, more than 70 samples from infected patients were obtained and sequenced, documenting the viral mutation rate and ultimately proving that the outbreak could be traced to an individual who died of Ebola in Guinea in December 2013.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.