Bats are important reservoirs for (re-)emerging viruses (including corona-, henipah-, rhabdo- and filo-viruses), which cause deadly disease outbreaks worldwide.
They represent a unique example of adaptive evolution as besides their flying ability, they represent the second most diverse and geographically dispersed mammalian order.
Viral diversity in bats is exemplified by the influenza A-like viruses H17N10 and H18N11 in asymptomatic Neotropical bats. These influenza viruses are evolutionarily distinct, are poorly adapted to laboratory mice and ferrets and cannot reassort in vitro with conventional strains to form new influenza subtypes.
However, they have attracted renewed attention following reports that their entry in host cells is mediated by the trans-species conserved MHC-II proteins, suggesting that they hold zoonotic potential. Despite the recent studies, the viruses' epidemiology and public health significance remain incompletely understood.
Efstathios (Stathis) Giotis graduated from the School of veterinary medicine (Aristotle University, Greece) in 2001, received his MSc in biotechnology in 2002 and PhD in molecular microbiology in 2006 from the Ulster and Illinois State Universities. Common denominators of his research have been the focus on the interface of human-animal health and the use of transcriptomics technologies to answer scientific questions.
After joining Imperial College London in 2012, his research has moved to focus on the host cell-entry and transmission of zoonotic avian and bat-borne viruses such as avian/bat influenza A viruses, using big data techniques and bioinformatics. He joined the University of Essex in 2020 in order to establish his own group with a primary focus on SARS-CoV-2. He remains affiliated with Imperial College London as an honorary senior research fellow.