Dr. Shi Zhengli
Dr. Shi Zhengli graduated from Wuhan University in 1987 and pursued her graduate studies in Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (1987-1990), and Montpellier University II, France (1996-2000). She has been working on the discovery and characterization of novel viruses from bats and other wildlife. She carried out systemic studies on epidemiology, genetic evolution, interspecies infection mechanism, and pathogenesis of bat viruses. The accomplishments of Dr. Shi include 1) identify the pathogen of COVID-19 and its probable bat origin; 2) identify the pathogen causing swine acute diarrhoea syndrome and its bat origin; 3) identify a gene pool of SARS-related coronaviruses; 4) discover a large number of novel bat viruses, including filoviruses, adenoviruses, reoviruses, circovirus, etc. Owing to her original scientific findings and contributions to the bat virus research field, Dr. Shi won the second prize of the Natural Science Award of China in 2018 and was elected as a fellowship of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2019. She has provided editorial service to Virology, Virol J and has served since 2017 as Editor-in-Chief for Virologica Sinica.
Professor Yong-Zhen Zhang had performed research on infectious disease and viruses in the National Institute of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention of China since the end of 1998 and had to leave the institute in October 2020. He has worked as an adjunct professor in Shanghai Public Health Clinic Center since 2018. Over the past decade, his team has discovered more than 2000 novel viruses including Jingmen tick virus, Chu viruses, Qin virus, and Zhao virus in animal samples collected from various habitats in China, indicating unprecedented high diversity of RNA viruses in nature. The newly discovered viruses by his lab fill major gaps and reveal the “continuity” in the RNA virus phylogeny. Together, their results present a view of the RNA virosphere that is more phylogenetically and genomically diverse than that depicted in current classification schemes and provide a more solid foundation for studies in virus ecology and evolution.
In the early morning of 5 January 2020, his lab obtained the whole genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 from a patient with pneumonia in Wuhan of China. Remarkably, based on the genome sequences and clinic data, he made the precision judgements on the pneumonia disease in Wuhan: i) the etiologic agent is SARS-like virus, ii) the virus is a novel coronavirus, iii) the virus is transmitted through the respiratory tract, iv) the disease is severer than high pathogenic avian influenza. His lab deposited the virus genome sequence in GenBank in the afternoon of 5th January and released the genome sequence to the world in the morning of 11th January.”