Martha Nason

Mathematical statistician, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Adjunct faculty member, Johns Hopkins University

Contagion— Conducting scientific research in a pandemic

Infectious disease biostatistician Martha Nason discusses the process of fighting a pandemic. Presented as part of the 2021 National Evening of Science on Screen.

Martha's Vineyard Film Society Tisbury, MA

Film Synopsis

Director Steven Soderbergh’s disaster thriller follows the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days.

When Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) returns to Minnesota from a Hong Kong business trip, she attributes the malaise she feels to jet lag. However, two days later, Beth is dead, and doctors tell her husband (Matt Damon) that they have no idea what killed her. Soon, many others start to exhibit the same symptoms, and a worldwide pandemic erupts. Doctors try to contain the lethal microbe, but society begins to collapse as a blogger (Jude Law) fans the flames of paranoia.

About the Speaker

Dr. Martha Nason is a biostatistician at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland, and a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University. Her work has focused on clinical trials and preclinical research into vaccines and infectious diseases, including HIV, Malaria, Zika, Ebola, and recently SARS-CoV2. She has worked with NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center since 2003 on vaccines against many different pathogens, and participated in many scientific review and advisory committees for NIAID and for the FDA. In addition, she has served as a member of the World Health Organization’s R&D Working Group on Clinical Trials since 2016.

In the past year Dr. Nason has focused on SARS-CoV2, working as part of Operation Warp Speed’s statistical group and a member of the protocol team for several of the Covid-19 vaccines under development, as well as on the preclinical studies of the Moderna vaccine at the Vaccine Research Center. She has continued to collaborate with the WHO on the design of their multinational vaccine platform study, and supported the members of the NIH COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel in evaluating evidence on which to base their recommendations.