She’s known as China’s “Bat Woman.” Shi Zhengli is a virus hunter and microbiologist, and director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).
She also plays a central role in a whodunnit that may ultimately prove impossible to solve.
Shi’s work involves collecting bat viruses and using techniques of genetic engineering and synthetic biology to enable these viruses to infect human beings.
Since the Biological Weapons Convention took effect, what scientists like Shi do has been called “gain-of-function” research or “dual-use research of concern” (DURC).
In other words, Shi, and other scientists like her, are in the business of weaponizing viruses by genetically engineering or otherwise altering them to make them more lethal, and more easily transmitted, to humans. Read more