Healthcare Science workforce and equipment era
“Advancements into Modern day Virology”.
My career journey spans over a decade, and within this timeframe there has been a phenomenal advancements in the Healthcare Science workforce and equipment era. I am a senior Biomedical scientist and my speciality is in Virology.
The world of healthcare is in the age of personalised precision medicine and prevention. Patient care is improving through capitalizing on use of novel technology and digital inventions, delivery of diagnostics, and treatment closer to the patient.
Viruses and viral diseases have been at the centres of science, agriculture, and medicine for millennia, and some of our greatest challenges and conquests have involved virology. Virology has changed significantly since I entered the profession and as virologists we have played major roles in the biological revolutions of the last century.
With the arrival of such exciting new experimental methods, will the approaches of traditional virology continue to be necessary? I remember the era of using electron microscopy (EM), a very subjective and highly technical expertise required in the diagnosis of enteric (intestinal) viral infections where you can only examine one sample at a time and you have to prepare the EM grids individually; the use of immunofluorescence (IF) in diagnosing respiratory viral infections and pneumocystis jirovecii in HIV/AIDS patients, cell culture in the characterisation of enteroviruses, isolation of cytomegalovirus (CMV), which takes up to 21 days, Adenovirus, chicken pox /Varicella zoster (VZV) etc. Over the past ten years alone, the number of known and named viruses has increased significantly, owing to developments in the technology for finding them, also a recent modification to the guidelines for identifying new species, to allow nomenclature without having to culture virus and host.
Laboratory diagnostics using cell culture, conventional biochemistry, animal models, clinical trials, will undoubtedly continue to be indispensable components of contemporary and future virology research. The advent technologies will not displace their precursors albeit join and complement them. An example is the characterization of new viruses revealed through deep sequencing will necessitate cultured cells to examine viral replication biology and host organisms to investigate viral pathogenesis and disease outcomes. The fundamental association of viruses with specific disease phenotypes will require investigational infections and intercession trials. Consequently, the virology repertoire will be enhanced by scientific innovations rather than traded by them.
Integrating new technology advances with traditional epidemiology and scientific approaches will not be a simple academic exercise. Training the next generation of scientists to be capable of undertaking innovative research will require multifaceted course offerings, enhanced training opportunities, especially involving interdisciplinary collaboration and computational approaches to teamwork. To enable professional advancement, it requires the development new strategies to identify and reward individual contributions to group scientific efforts as team science becomes more and more prevalent.
With certainty I can say that virology in the 21st century will continue to flourish due to numerous universal forces driving the future of our discipline: technology development, public health, information processing, and, of course, personal curiosity.
Written by Bamidele Farinre