Dr. Olivier Pernet is a virologist with over 15 years of research experience in the field of emerging zoonotic viruses, with a special attention on bat related diseases (Nipah Virus, Ebola Virus, SARS-CoV-1, SARS-CoV-2,...). Dr. Pernet work focuses on host-virus interactions and how to use them for biomedical applications (outbreak preparedness, surveillance, high-throughput serology, drug discovery, gene therapy,...).
After a brief period at bioMérieux where he worked on SARS-CoV-1 detection assay, Dr. Pernet moved to Paris and completed a Master Degree in Medical Virology at the Paris Diderot University and the Institut Pasteur. He then joined the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon for his PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Robin Buckland. There he studied Henipaviruses cellular entry in the Bio-Safety Level 4 Jean Mérieux "P4" laboratory. During his time in Lyon, he unraveled a new entry model for Paramyxoviruses and identify drugs with the potential to treat the dreaded Nipah Virus. He also worked on antivirals targeting Ebola Virus and Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus. Additionally, while in France Dr. Pernet worked on outbreak prevention and mitigation by studying viral shedding in bats from France and Mali.
Dr. Pernet then moved to the US on a joint position at UCLA and UTMB/Galveston National Laboratory. Under the supervision of Dr. Benhur Lee and Dr. Alexander Freiberg, he continued his work on viral entry, using the Henipavirus glycoproteins to design new vectors for gene therapy. While at UCLA, Dr. Pernet also documented the first human cases of Henipavirus on the African continent and identified risk factors for zoonotic transmission in Cameroon.
He has since moved on to become a faculty at Keck Medicine of USC, in the department of Pediatrics where he works on immune response toward viral (co)infections in LA's highly diverse population. During the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, Dr. Pernet has continued his work at Keck Medicine of USC, where he developed a highly sensitive saliva-based assays against SARS-CoV-2 in order to increase hospitals testing capacities in the early days of the pandemic, and then worked the immune system interaction with COVID-19, vaccine response, and mother to child transmission of SARS-CoV-2.