• Affiliate Professor, Global Health
  • Affiliate Professor, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
  • Research Microbiologist, USGS Western Fisheries Research Center
Gael Kurath

Western Fisheries Research Center
6505 NE 65th Street
Seattle, WA 98115
United States

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Dr. Gael Kurath's interests involve basic research into the epidemiology and evolution of RNA viruses, including their molecular biology, genetic diversity, host specificity, fitness, and transmission patterns. Her team's research model is rhabdovirus pathogens of salmonid fish, using extensive field data on virus occurrence and disease impacts, in vivo wet-laboratory infection studies, and molecular biological studies of viral genomic diversity. The field epidemiology has identified major virus emergence and displacement events associated with host jumps, and evolution of a generalist virus from a specialist ancestor. Major current efforts include discerning the drivers of these events, developing a landscape scale model of virus transmission throughout the Pacific Northwest, and defining the functional basis of specialism versus generalism for an RNA virus. The ability to test field hypotheses by conducting in vivo infection studies in a vertebrate host makes this system relevant to the basic function of RNA viruses, and contributes to the One Health concept that unites human and veterinary medicine and addresses the connections between human health and the environment.

  • PhD (Oregon State University)
  • MS (Oregon State University)
  • BA (Miami University (Ohio))
Country Affiliations 
  • Spanish
Health Topics 
  • Environmental Health (incl. Climate Change)
  • Epidemiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Infectious Diseases (other than STDs)
  • Pathobiology
  • Pathogenesis
  • Viruses
Pathobiology research areas 
DGH Centers, Programs and Initiatives and Affiliated Organizations 

Molecular biology, genetic diversity, evolution, and control of RNA viruses such as IHNV and VHSV; fish health research model; One Health concept


Kell AM, Wargo AR, Kurath G. 2013. The role of virulence in in vivo superinfection fitness of a vertebrate RNA virus, infections hematopoietic necrosis virus. J. Virology 87:8145-8157.

Kell AM, Wargo AR, Kurath G. 2014. Viral fitness does not correlate with three genotype displacement events involving infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus. Virology 464-465:146-155. doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.201407.003.

Breyta RB, McKenney DG, Thompson TM, Kurath G. 2016. Increasing virulence, but not infectivity, associated with serially emergent virus strains of a fish rhabdovirus. Virus Evolution 2(1):vev018. doi:10.1093/ve/vev018.

Kurath G, Wargo AR. 2016. Evolution of viral virulence: empirical studies. Chapter 6 in: Virus Evolution: Current Research and Future Directions, eds. Weaver SC, Denison M, Roossinck M, Vignuzzi M. Caister Academic Press. ISBN978-1-910190-23-4.

Vakharia VN, Li J, McKenney DG, Kurath G. The nucleoprotein and phosphoprotein are major determinants of virulence of viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus in rainbow trout. J. Virol., in press.