|Born||26 May 1964|
Xixia County, Henan
|Known for||Research into bat viruses|
Shi Zhengli (simplified Chinese: 石正丽; traditional Chinese: 石正麗; born 26 May 1964) is a Chinese virologist who researches SARS-like coronaviruses of bat origin. Shi directs the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). In 2017, Shi and her colleague Cui Jie discovered that the SARS coronavirus likely originated in a population of cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Xiyang Yi Ethnic Township, Yunnan. She came to prominence in the popular press as "Batwoman" during the COVID-19 pandemic for her work with bat coronaviruses. Shi was included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
Early life and education
Shi was born in May 1964 in Xixia County, Henan. She graduated from Wuhan University in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in genetics. She received her master's degree from the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 1990, and she received her PhD at the Montpellier 2 University in France in 2000, where she gained fluency in French.
In 2005, Shi Zhengli and colleagues found that bats are the natural reservoir of SARS-like coronaviruses. In 2008 Shi led a research team which studied binding of spike proteins of both natural and chimaeric SARS-like coronaviruses to ACE2 receptors in human, civet and horseshoe bat cells, to determine the mechanism by which SARS may have spilled over into humans. In 2015, Shi Zhengli published a paper led by Ralph S Baric of the University of North Carolina, which showed that that SARS had the potential to re-emerge from coronaviruses circulating in bat populations in the wild. Shi and her colleague Cui Jie led a team which sampled thousands of horseshoe bats throughout China. In 2017, they published their findings, indicating that all the genetic components of the SARS coronavirus existed in a bat population in Xiyang Yi Ethnic Township, Yunnan. While no single bat harbored the exact strain of virus which caused the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak, genetic analysis showed that different strains often mix, suggesting that the human version likely emerged from a combination of the strains present in the bat population. Shi's discoveries on the origin of SARS earned her international recognition.
Shi is the director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), located in Jiangxia District, Wuhan. On her resume, Shi mentioned receiving grant funding from U.S. government sources totaling more than US$1.2 million, including $665,000 from the National Institutes of Health from 2014 to 2019, as well as US$559,500 over the same period from USAID.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Shi and other institute scientists formed an expert group to research Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In February 2020, researchers led by Shi Zhengli published an article in Nature titled, "A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin", finding that SARS-CoV-2 is in the same family as SARS, and that it has 96.2% genome overlap with the most closely related known coronavirus, RaTG13. In February 2020, her team published a paper in Cell Research showing that remdesivir and chloroquine inhibited the virus in vitro, and applied for a patent for the drug in China on behalf of the WIV. This caused conflict with an American pharmaceutical firm that had also applied for a patent. Shi co-authored a paper labelling the virus as the first Disease X.
In February 2020, the South China Morning Post reported that Shi's decade-long work to build up one of the world's largest databases of bat-related viruses gave the scientific community a "head start" in understanding the virus. The SCMP also reported that Shi was the focus of personal attacks in Chinese social media who claimed the WIV was the source of the virus, leading Shi to strongly affirm that the outbreak "has nothing to do with the lab." In a March 2020 interview with Scientific American, where she was called China's "Bat Woman", Shi said "Bat-borne coronaviruses will cause more outbreaks", and "We must find them before they find us." In June 2021 the New York Times said that her research on coronaviruses at a state lab in Wuhan, had put her at the center of an outburst of feelings regarding the pandemic. Leading virologists have explained that SARS-CoV-2 is most likely of natural origin, and that it is extremely unlikely that it leaked from a lab. Shi's colleague Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance, which studies emerging infectious diseases, has noted estimates that 1–7 million people in Southeast Asia who live or work in proximity to bats are infected each year with bat coronaviruses. On July 31 Science Magazine published an interview with Shi in which she commented "to date, there is zero infection of all staff and students in our institute." Asked by Science why the WIV conducts coronavirus experiments in BSL-4 labs when most other scientists work with coronaviruses BSL-2 or BSL-3 conditions, Shi explained that her group also used BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratories for their coronavirus research, but that they had begun to use BSL-4 laboratories per government regulations after the pandemic.
Service and honours
Shi is a member of the Virology Committee of the Chinese Society for Microbiology. She is editor-in-chief of Virologica Sinica, the Chinese Journal of Virology, and the Journal of Fishery Sciences of China.
- 2016 Chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes académiques
- 2018 State Natural Science Award (Second Class)
- February 2019 Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM)
|Scholia has an author profile for Shi Zhengli.|
- For the research paper, see: Wang, Ning (2018). "Serological Evidence of Bat SARS-Related Coronavirus Infection in Humans, China" (PDF). Virologica Sinica. 33 (1): 104–107. doi:10.1007/s12250-018-0012-7. PMC 6178078. PMID 29500691.
- For English news coverage, see: "Bat cave solves mystery of deadly SARS virus — and suggests new outbreak could occur". Nature. 1 December 2017.
- For a more detailed news coverage in Chinese, see: "石正丽团队两年前已发现蝙蝠冠状病毒感染人现象". The Beijing News [新京报]. 26 February 2020.
- Qiu, Jane (11 March 2020). "How China's "Bat Woman" Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus". Scientific American. Archived from the original on 14 April 2020. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- "Shi Zhengli: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
- 石正丽：与病毒相伴的女科学家. sciencenet.cn (in Chinese). 10 March 2009. Archived from the original on 7 February 2019. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
- 中科院武汉病毒所博士生指导老师简介 (in Chinese). Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan Division. 22 September 2009. Archived from the original on 10 August 2018.
石正丽, 女， 1964年出生，博士，研究员。1987年7月毕业于武汉大学生物系遗传专业，获学士学位。
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- Ren, Wuze; Li, Wendong; Yu, Meng; Hao, Pei; Zhang, Yuan; Zhou, Peng; Zhang, Shuyi; Zhao, Guoping; Zhong, Yang; Wang, Shengyue; Wang, Lin-Fa; Shi, Zhengli (1 November 2006). "Full-length genome sequences of two SARS-like coronaviruses in horseshoe bats and genetic variation analysis". J Gen Virol. 87 (11): 3355–3359. doi:10.1099/vir.0.82220-0. PMID 17030870.
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team led by Shi Zheng-Li, a coronavirus specialist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, reported on 23 January on bioRxiv that 2019-nCoV’s sequence was 96.2% similar to a bat virus and had 79.5% similarity to the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a disease whose initial outbreak was also in China more than 15 years ago.
- Zhengli, Shi; Team of 29 researchers at the WIV (3 February 2020). "A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin". Nature. 579 (7798): 270–273. Bibcode:2020Natur.579..270Z. doi:10.1038/s41586-020-2012-7. PMC 7095418. PMID 32015507.
- Zhengli, Shi; Team of 10 researchers at the WIV (4 February 2020). "Remdesivir and chloroquine effectively inhibit the recently emerged novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in vitro". Cell Research. 30 (3): 269–271. doi:10.1038/s41422-020-0282-0. PMC 7054408. PMID 32020029.
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