From herbs to viruses
Vail Symposium hosts two educational events Tuesday and Wednesday.First is a walking exploration of native plants led by expert herbalist Lynn Albers in East Vail. The second will be a look at the world of deadly viruses, told by two doctors who held directorships with the Centers for Disease Control and travelled the world stalking and tracing virulent agents. Doctors Joseph McCormick and Sue Fisher-Hoch have traveled the world, but also have a home here in Cordillera.
Slow Food Vail Valley, the Vail Symposium and master herbalist Lynn Albers will guide a walk to learn about Colorado’s native plants and some of their cultural uses. Rocky Mountain flora played an important survival role for the indigenous peoples of our region, as well as being integrally important in the Southwest Hispanic community of the Four Corners states. Learn how both of these traditions strongly influenced North America’s practice of medicinal herbalism. The morning will conclude with herbal refreshments, discussion and a “show and tell” at the Vail Racquet Club’s Bighorn Bistro. Albers has been a student/ educator/ practitioner of Western Herbalism for over 30 years and is a noted native plant educator throughout Colorado .
Hantavirus, Ebola, HIV and Lassa Fever are classified biosafety level 4, a designation used for the most life-threatening diseases, and for which there is no vaccine or therapy. Doctors McCormick and Fisher-Hoch will explain the process of investigating, identifying and containing these virulent agents Wednesday at Red Sky Ranch in Wolcott. Dr. McCormick worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1974, and was made chief of the Special Pathogens Branch in 1982, where he identified the Hantavirus. He is currently assistant dean, UT Houston School of Public Health. Dr. Fischer Hoch worked with the CDC for eight years. She was in charge of design, building and scientific programming the new BSL4 suit laboratory in Lyon, France – now the most technologically advanced laboratory for handling dangerous viruses in the world. The two married in 1992 and currently teach and operate labs at the UT Houston School of Public Health. Their current fields of research include the study of dieases such as diabetes and tuberculosis in minority groups; a novel approach to an HIV vaccine; and earlier detection methods for tuberculosis.