UMMS Affiliation

UMass Center for Clinical and Translational Science, Center for Clinical Research

Publication Date


Document Type



Bioinformatics | Computational Biology | Genomics | Immunology and Infectious Disease | Infectious Disease | Structural Biology | Virology | Virus Diseases


When a new pathogen that causes a global epidemic in humans, one key question is where it comes from. This is especially important for a zoonotic infectious disease that jumps from animals to humans. Knowing the origin of such a pathogen is critical to develop means to block further transmission and to develop vaccines. Discovery of the origin of a newly human pathogen is a sophisticated process that requires extensive and vigorous scientific validations and generally takes many years, such as the cases for HIV-1, SARS and MERS. Unfortunately, before the natural sources of new pathogens are clearly defined, conspiracy theories that the new pathogens are man-made often surface as the source. However, in all cases, such theories have been debunked in history.


2019-nCoV, HIV-1, COVID-19, genome, origination

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Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor and Francis Group, on behalf of Shanghai Shangyixun Cultural Communication Co., Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

DOI of Published Version



Emerg Microbes Infect. 2020 Dec;9(1):378-381. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1727299. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Emerging microbes and infections

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.