COVID-19 & Societal Impacts

The Evolution of COVID-19: Variants, Long-Term Consequences and Coexistence

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In late 2019, the COVID-19 outbreak began gripping the world and the medical community. The pandemic, spanning the past two years now, has mutated to multiple variants, the most widespread being Delta and Omicron variants.

After administering more than 500 million vaccines to the people in the United States, the future of the virus is now moving to the “catch-and-contain” strategy: early testing and contact tracing.

In this seminar, science and medical experts discuss the evolution of coronavirus and future variations of COVID-19. Will it have evolved to a less or more virulent strain — or strains? What’s the likelihood we’ll settle into an uneasy coexistence with it, just as we have with the flu? What are the latest scientific findings regarding the potential long-term consequences of COVID-19 infection?

The panel features Paula Cannon, Distinguished Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Keck School of Medicine of USC, associate director of Cross School Programs for the MESH Academy and special advisor to the provost; and Sarah Van Orman, clinical professor of family medicine (clinician educator) and associate vice provost for student affairs. It is moderated by Peter Kuhn, dean’s professor of biological sciences at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Who Will Benefit

– Aspiring medical professionals who want to further understand the evolution of COVID-19
– Those looking to uncover how COVID-19 has affected society and its long-term implications
– Students seeking deeper insights into USC’s pandemic mitigation strategies

About Our Featured Faculty

Paula Cannon is a Distinguished Professor of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, where she leads a research team that studies viruses, stem cells and gene therapy. Cannon is also associate director of Cross School Programs for the MESH Academy and special advisor to the provost. She obtained her PhD from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, and received postdoctoral training as an HIV scientist at both Oxford and Harvard universities. Cannon has a long-standing interest in the development of gene therapy as a clinical approach to treating HIV infection, and her recent work in this area is aimed at disrupting the viral co-receptor, CCR5, using zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs).

Peter Kuhn joined the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences as dean’s professor of biological sciences in July 2014. Kuhn also has appointments as professor of medicine, professor of biomedical engineering and professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, a founding member of the Michelson Center for Convergent Biosciences at USC and is leading CSI-Cancer at USC. He is a scientist, educator and entrepreneur with a career-long commitment in personalized medicine and individualized cancer patient care. He is focused on the redesign of cancer care. Kuhn is a physicist who trained initially at the Julius Maximilians Universität Würzburg, Germany, before receiving his master’s in physics at the University of Albany in 1993 and his PhD in 1995. He then moved to Stanford University, where he joined the faculties of medicine and accelerator physics as tenure track assistant professor. From 2002 to 2014, he established the Physics Oncology program at The Scripps Research in La Jolla, CA as tenured associate professor before joining USC in 2014.

Sarah Van Orman, MD, MMM, FACHA is chief health officer of USC Student Health, overseeing Engemann Student Health Center and Eric Cohen Student Health Center. She also holds academic appointments through Keck School of Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine and is board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. Van Orman earned her MMM at Carnegie Mellon University, her MD at Mayo Medical School, and her BA at Carleton College. She did a combined residency training in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Chicago Hospital and Clinics. She joined USC in August 2017 after nearly a decade serving as executive director of University Health Services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she oversaw all facets of the comprehensive college health program. Currently, Van Orman provides leadership on campus public health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and oversees comprehensive medical, mental health, prevention and education initiatives that enhance student wellness, increase access to health services and address critical issues impacting our student population. Van Orman is the past president of the American College Health Association (ACHA) and is the 2020 recipient of the ACHA Edward Hitchcock award for Outstanding Contributions in College Health.