Via STAT, Helen Branswell's tribute to the real father of Flublogia: Jack Woodall, a pioneer in disease surveillance, dies at 81. Excerpt:
A pioneer in the field of infectious diseases surveillance has died.
John Payne Woodall — known to all as Jack — was one of the founders of ProMED, an internet-based outbreak reporting system run under the auspices of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. The acronym is short for the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases.
ProMED was established in 1994. Woodall, who was 81 at the time of his death on Monday, was involved virtually until the end, contributing frequently to discussions about a dangerous yellow fever outbreak in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The unprecedented size of the outbreak has strained supplies of yellow fever vaccine at points this year and Woodall feared the need would outstrip the supply.
He pushed tenaciously for the World Health Organization to recommend use of a fractional dose of vaccine, an approach the organization endorsed in June.
In urgent emails to like-minded scientists and others he thought could influence the cause, Woodall would often sign off with a quote from the cartoon strip “Calvin and Hobbes.”
He described the quote as his motto: “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I’m so far behind I will never die.”
The list of Woodall’s accomplishments was long, friends and colleagues said.
An arbovirologist, Woodall was involved in some of the earliest research on the Zika virus, which was discovered in Uganda in 1947.
He was not involved in the virus’s discovery — he was still a boy at that time — but reported on finding it in mosquitoes in Uganda, where he worked for a time after graduating with a doctorate in entomology and virology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
His life and career took him literally around the globe. He spent part of his childhood in China, noted Dr. Marjorie Pollack, a friend and fellow ProMED moderator. And as a scientist, he worked at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, the Belem Virus Laboratory in Brazil, the Yale University arbovirus research unit in New Haven, Conn., and the New York State Health Department.
Thank you, Dr. Woodall.