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News Release

Date: October 27, 2005
Media Contact: Elizabeth Homan, 301-251-7970; Steve Simon, 301-251-7952

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Montgomery College-Germantown to Host Talk about Avian Flu
Microbiologist to Discuss Properties, Pandemics and Prevention, Nov. 16

Dr. Catherine Luke, a microbiologist, will speak at Montgomery College’s Germantown Campus on Wednesday, Nov. 16, as part of the 2005-2006 Spectrum Lecture Series.  Her talk, entitled “Avian Flu (Bird Flu):  Properties, Pandemics and Prevention,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Globe Hall, which is located in the High Technology and Science Center, 20200 Observation Drive, Germantown, Md.  This event is free and open to the public.

Like all Spectrum Lectures, Dr. Luke’s lecture is designed for a non-scientific audience, enabling scientists, students, and the community to learn about ground-breaking advancements in science.  It will cover the biology of influenza viruses, a brief history of influenza pandemics and the evolution of the avian flu outbreak in Asia.  Intervention strategies for use in the event of a pandemic, including vaccination and treatment options, will also be discussed. 

Avian flu, also referred to as bird flu, is a particularly virulent strain of flu that has infected a wide variety of species, including humans.  This virus, identified as H5N1, has resulted in the deaths of people and has the potential, if it mutates and crosses into the human population, to develop into a global pandemic.   Most recently, the virus has spread from Asia to Eastern Europe, resulting in the killing of millions of birds in an effort to contain the virus. 

The speaker, Catherine Luke, Ph.D., received her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Birmingham in Great Britain, where she also completed her Ph.D. in microbiology.  In 1993, Dr. Luke moved to the U.S. to do post-doctoral research on vaccines against Lyme disease at the University of Texas Health Science Center and at the University of California, Irvine.  Subsequently, she worked at a biotech company on the development of DNA-based vaccines for infectious diseases. 

In 2004, Dr. Luke moved to Washington, D.C., where she has been working as a contractor with Kelly Services at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.  She is working on the regulatory aspects of development of live attenuated vaccines for pandemic influenza.

For questions or to request accommodations for physical disability, please contact Professor Susan Bontems at 301-353-7740 or

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Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md.  The College serves more than 55,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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