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King's alumna, Emma Woolner (nee Newman, B.Sc. '04)
King's alumna, Emma Woolner (nee Newman, B.Sc. '04)
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Alumna lends hand in COVID-19 research push

King’s alumna, Emma Woolner (nee Newman, B.Sc. ’04) works as a research technician in a Virology lab at the University of Alberta. Recent research done by the research team Woolner is a part of found a connection between a drug used to fight Ebola, Remdesivir, and COVID-19. This research has recently been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

“Having a liberal arts education prepared me for more than sitting in classrooms memorizing facts,” says Woolner. “My classes at King’s taught me analytical thought, and the ability to analyze and research.”

This most recent publication is based off of previous work with the Ebola virus in which Remdesivir – an Ebola drug – has been found as effective in inhibiting the multiplication of COVID-19. Though not a cure for COVID-19, this research has found that Remdesivir acts on the part of the virus that is responsible for duplicating the genetic material, or “insides”, of the virus that is necessary for the infection progress.

“I started in this lab only 7 months ago,” explains Woolner. “I see no limit to where our research can take us. We have the opportunity to help so many and advance the field of virology. What more could you ask for in a job?!”

The particular lab Woolner works in has unique opportunities to research viruses that many others cannot, due to the fact that this lab does not work with the virus itself. Rather, working with proteins created by the virus gives Woolner, and other researchers in this lab, a significant advantage. This is due to the fact that they are not limited by the safety precautions necessary in labs working directly with viruses.

“The most exciting part of this work for me is that our only limitations are time and money. We have the opportunity here to test lots of chemicals and lots of different viruses regardless of their level of danger because of the nature of this lab,” states Woolner. “I feel like we have the means to make a difference.”


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