Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove is a medical doctor who has been a featured guest on a variety of news programs recently. She is a member of the team of experts at the World Health Organization, working hard to contain the spread of the recent pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus. She is one of the leaders in her field of expertise and it is a comfort knowing that some of the top minds are at work attempting to lessen the impact of this global crisis. Here are 10 things we learned about Dr. Van Kerkhove that you probably didn’t know.
1. She is American-born with an Ivy League education
Maria was born in the United States of America. She attended Cornell University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences in 1999. She continued forward with her education at Stanford University School of Medicine, graduating with her Master of Science in epidemiology. She continued her studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to earn her Ph.D. in infectious disease epidemiology. As a part of her studies, she submitted a thesis on the avian flu in Cambodia.
2. Dr. Maria D. Van Kerkhove is a leader in the World Health Organization
Maria is working hard to lead the fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic that is rapidly spreading throughout the world. She is an infectious disease epidemiologist who has done extensive work with high threat pathogens. Her specialty is in infectious diseases that are emerging. She is employed with the World Health Organization in the Health Emergency Program as a technical lead of the response for the COVID-19 outbreak.
3. She led a team of epidemiologists in Cambodia
Maria Van Kerhove worked with the Outbreak Investigation Task Force at the Institut Pasteur de Cambodia from 2006 to 2008. She was the head of the field research team. During this time she was surrounded by cases of different respiratory viruses which were either just emerging on the scene or in the process of re-emerging for another round. While at this post, she gathered data on H5N1 influenza and the likelihood of its transmission from poultry in the region to human beings. She also gathered information on Marburg adn Ebola viruses.
4. Dr. Van Kerkhove is also a researcher
Maria’s career has also involved a stint at Imperial College in London, England. She worked at the Medical Research Council Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling as a senior research fellow from 2009 through 2015. During this time she also served as a technical consultant for the World Health Organization on the MERS-CoV task force in 2013. She has also had previous experience in the Global Capacities, Alert and Response Cluster with the World Health Organization in 2009.
5. She is in-demand as a lecturer
Dr. Van Kerkhove’s expertise in infectious disease and other related topics has made her a professional that is in high demand as a lecturer. She is a regular sent out by the WHO to provide information at press conferences with regards to the current COVID-19 pandemic. She offers answers to frequently asked questions based on the hard facts that are currently known about the situation.
6. Maria went to China to gather more information
China has been considered a hot spot, and even ground zero since news of the emerging pandemic begun. Dr. Van Kerkhove took a trip to China where she spent two weeks conducting research to gain a better understanding of how the Chinese government was attempting to contain the virus. This shows us that she is a brave woman who was willing to put her own health in jeopardy to do her job to the best of her ability.
7. Maria Van Kerkhove is a wife and mother
It is easy to view leaders such as Dr. Van Kerkhove as a tireless worker who has dedicated her life to saving lives through her research and other efforts. While this is a fair assessment, there are other parts of her life that are not to the forefront of her public life. She is also the wife of her husband, and she is a mother to her two sons. She has a life outside of work, but a big part of her inspiration to carry on in her efforts is to ensure the safety of the ones that she loves as well as the rest of the inhabitants of the planet.
8. Her input is used in WHO policy development
Dr. Van Kerkhove is a widely respected expert in epidemiology. She continues to provide advisement to the World Health Organization whenever there is an emerging disease or outbreak that threatens the health and safety of the world. The information that she gathers from her research and other efforts is considered by members of the WHO when they develop the policies that are disseminated to world leaders for action.
9. She is a member of CONSISE
CONSISE is the acronym for the Consortium for the Standardization of Influenza Seroepidemiology. Dr. Van Kerkhove is one of the leading members of the group. This is a global partnership that has made significant contributions to establishing investigation protocols for influenza. The group also standardized the study of seroepidemiology to provide useful information for those who develop WHO policy to offer better estimates for virus infections that become pandemic.
10. Maria does a great deal of traveling to save the world
As a leader in CONSISE, Maria Van Kerkhove does a lot of traveling. She is a part of two working groups who conduct their investigations on epidemiology and laboratory processes. Collaborations with multiple organizations including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The World Health Organization, Public Health of England, Imperial College London, the European Centres for Disease Control, Australia’s Center for Reference and Research on Influenza, and others. This takes her around the world. So far the group has met in Cape Town, South Africa, in Hong Kong, in Stockholm, Sweden, adn in Ottowa, Canada.