Science / Health PolicyEva Harris
Professor of infectious diseases, president of the Sustainable Sciences Institute
Pathogenesis and epidemiology of infectious diseases, particularly dengue; interested in transferring advanced technology to the developing world and building scientific capacity.
Many would describe Harris as an "activist researcher." She focuses her efforts on combating diseases that primarily afflict people in developing nations. For example, she hopes that her research on the molecular biology of the dengue virus will eventually lead to a vaccine or antiviral therapies, while her work in dengue-endemic countries like Nicaragua will lead to better control of the mosquito that transmits dengue.
In 1998, Harris published the book, "A Low Cost Approach to PCR: Appropriate Transfer of Biomolecular Techniques," which strips an expensive DNA analysis technique down to its principles so that it becomes practical and inexpensive for use by people in developing nations.
The book exemplifies the work she advocates as president of the Sustainable Sciences Institute (SSI), a non-profit organization based in San Francisco. The organization is dedicated to helping scientists in developing countries gain access to the resources needed to address local problems related to infectious diseases.
Harris founded SSI with money she was awarded through the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship in 1997.
Fluent in French and Spanish, Harris earned her bachelor’s degree in biochemical sciences from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley. From 1997-2003, Harris served as co-director of the Fogarty International Emerging Infectious Diseases Training Program at UC Berkeley.