During an average flu season, the influenza virus is associated with 250,000-500,000 deaths and 3-5 million cases of severe illness worldwide. St. Jude is a hub for research, surveillance and response systems, where researchers and physicians study how new influenza strains emerge in humans and how to improve vaccines and clinical care. Our researchers work with World Health Organization to provide formal recommendations for the composition of influenza vaccines each year.
Influenza research at St. Jude has always been important for our cancer patients because cancer treatments suppress their immune systems and put them at risk for infectious diseases. Learn more about global efforts to understand influenza and get influenza facts.
The following influenza experts are available to offer hands-on expertise on influenza, vaccination, virology and infectious diseases.
To schedule an interview, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stacey Schultz-Cherry, PhD, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds deputy director, U.S. Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance co-director, is an expert in infectious diseases. She studies how influenza viruses and astroviruses (gastrointestinal) make people sick, as well as microbial co-infections, novel vaccines and therapeutics. Her recent work has investigated how factors such as obesity can make vaccines less protective, infections more severe and treatments less effective. Schultz-Cherry can provide information associated with increased efficacy in flu vaccines and new research surrounding global initiatives for better treatments of more vulnerable populations. She is an Associate Dean of Students at the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and a member of the St. Jude Department of Host-Microbe Interactions
Paul Thomas, PhD, St. Jude Departments of Immunology and Host-Microbe Interactions, studies the immune system. Specifically, he is an expert in innate and adaptive immunity to influenza, T cell receptor types in infectious and cancerous states and influenza-associated, immune-induced healing responses and pathology. He is a principal investigator of an international study to understand how someone’s first exposure to flu, whether by infection or vaccine, can affect their immune responses for the rest of their lives. Thomas can provide insight into what shapes the immune response to the virus throughout one’s lifetime and comment on better methods to treat influenza. Thomas has also led research into how the immune system responds to COVID-19.
Richard Webby, PhD, St. Jude Department of Host-Microbe Interactions, directs the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds. He is an internationally recognized expert on influenza, specifically the group of viruses that led to the emergence of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus. Webby can provide information on novel vaccine approaches, virus ecology, virus pathogenicity and determinants of host susceptibility to viruses.