WHO Announces Proposed Members of its Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO)

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WHO Announces Proposed Members of its Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO)
13 October 2021
Following a public call for experts, the World Health Organization (WHO) today announced proposed members of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). The SAGO will advise WHO on the development of a global framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential, including SARS-CoV-2.

“The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential, and requires a broad range of expertise. We are very pleased with the calibre of experts selected for SAGO from around the world, and look forward to working with them to make the world safer.”


Selected from more than 700 applications, the 26 proposed SAGO members have expertise in a range of areas, including epidemiology, animal health, ecology, clinical medicine, virology, genomics, molecular epidemiology, molecular biology, biology, food safety, biosafety, biosecurity, and public health. The composition of the SAGO reflects geographic and gender diversity.

As per WHO processes, there will now be a two-week public consultation period for WHO to receive feedback on the proposed SAGO members and set in place the modalities for the SAGO’s first meeting, which is planned to take place following this consultation period. The final membership to the SAGO is subject to the above-mentioned public consultation period and relevant WHO practices and procedures.


Functions of the SAGO 
In its capacity as an advisory body to WHO, the SAGO will have the following functions:
[1] To advise WHO on the development of a WHO global framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential;
[2] To advise WHO on prioritizing studies and field investigations into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential, in accordance with the WHO global framework described in point (1) above;
1. To provide information and views to assist the WHO Secretariat in the development of a detailed
work plan of the SAGO;
2. In the context of SARS-CoV-2 origins:
– To provide the WHO Secretariat with an independent evaluation of all available scientific and
technical findings from global studies on the origins of SARS-CoV-2;
– To advise the WHO Secretariat regarding developing, monitoring and supporting the next series
of studies into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, including rapid advice on WHO’s operational plans to
implement the next series of global studies into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, as outlined in the
Joint WHO-China Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part report published on 30
March 2021 and advise on additional studies as needed; and
3. To provide additional advice and support to WHO, as requested by the WHO SAGO Secretariat,
which may include participation in future WHO-international missions to study the origins of SARS-
CoV-2 or for other emerging pathogens.

Public notice of proposed new Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO) members
13 October 2021 Call for consultation
After careful consideration of all applications submitted to WHO, the following individuals are proposed for membership of the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). They are to serve in their personal capacities to represent the broad range of disciplines relevant to emerging and re-emerging pathogens. In evaluating the applications submitted, consideration was given to attaining an adequate distribution of technical expertise, geographical representation and gender balance.
Mr Phillip Alviola is an Associate Professor at the Animal Biology Division at the Institute of Biological Sciences, University of the Philippines. He is originally from the Philippines.
Dr Abdullah Assiri is an Assistant Deputy Minister for Preventive Health at the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia.  He is originally from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Dr Stuart Blacksell is a Professor of Tropical Microbiology at the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford. He is originally from Australia.
Dr Inger Damon is the Director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is originally from the United States of America.
Dr Vladimir Dedkov is the Deputy Director for Research at the Pasteur Institute in Russia. He is originally from Russia.
Dr Christian Drosten is a Professor and head of the Institute of Virology at Charité in Germany.  He is originally from Germany.
Dr Elmoubasher Farag is a senior infectious disease epidemiologist and the Head of the Communicable Diseases Control Programs at the Ministry of Public Health in Qatar. He is originally from Sudan.
Dr Thea Fischer is a Professor of virology at the University of Copenhagen and Head of Clinical Research at Nordsjaellands Hospital in Denmark. She is originally from Denmark.
Dr Raman Gangakhedkar is the Dr C.G. Pandit National Chair at the Indian Council of Medical Research in India. He is originally from India.
Dr Nada Ghosn is the head of the Epidemiology Surveillance Program and Medical officer for the Directorate of Prevention at the Ministry of Health, Lebanon. She is originally from Lebanon.
Dr Maria Guzman is the head of the Center for Research, Diagnostic and Reference at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Pedro Kouri in Cuba. She is originally from Cuba.
Dr Christian Happi is a Professor and director at the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Disease (ACEGID), Redeemer’s University, Ede, Nigeria. He is originally from Cameroon.
Dr Marion Koopmans is a Professor and the head of the department of the Viroscience at Erasmus MC. She is originally from the Netherlands.
Dr Sowath Ly is the Deputy Head of Epidemiology and Public Health Unit at the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge. He is originally from Cambodia.
Dr Jean-Claude Manuguerra is a research Research Director of the Environment and Infectious Risks Unit, as well as the head for the Emergency Biological Intervention Unit at the Institut Pasteur in France. He is originally from France.
Dr Khin Myint is the head of the Emerging Virus Research Unit at the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is originally from Myanmar.
Dr Carlos M. Morel is the Director at the Center for Technological Development in Health at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and Ministry of Health in Brazil. He is originally from Brazil.
Dr Hung Nguyen-Viet is the co-program leader of Animal and Human Health Program at the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya. He is originally from Vietnam.
Dr Chinwe Ochu is the Director of the Prevention Programmes and Knowledge Management at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. She is originally from Nigeria.
Dr Masayuki Saijo is the Director of the Medical Planning Department Sapporo City Health and Welfare Bureau in Sapporo, Japan. He is originally from Japan.
Dr Rosemary Sang is an advisor and Chief Research Officer at the Centre for Virus Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Kenya. She is originally from Kenya.
Dr Katharina Summermatter is the head of the Biosafety Center and Managing Director of the Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory at the Institute for Infectious Diseases at the University of Berne in Switzerland. She is originally from Switzerland.
Dr Marietjie Venter is a Professor of the Zoonotic Arbovirus and Respiratory Virus Research Programme at the Centre for Viral Zoonoses, Department of Medical Virology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She is originally from South Africa.
Dr Supaporn Wacharapluesadee is a researcher at the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, The Thai Red Cross Society and a committee member of Chula School of Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University. She is originally from Thailand.
Dr John Watson is an Honorary Professor at the Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, as well as a Visiting Professor in the Research Department of Infection and Population Health at the University College of London. He is originally from the United Kingdom.
Dr Yungui Yang is the Deputy Director at the Beijing Institute of Genomics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China. He is originally from China.
Pursuant to WHO’s rules and practices, and in order to enhance WHO’s management of conflicts of interest, as well as strengthen public trust and transparency in connection with WHO advisory groups involving the provision of technical advice, the names and brief biographies of the individuals selected for SAGO Membership are now disclosed for public notice and comment. Should you wish to comment on any of the individuals, please send your comment to SAGO@who.int  with subject, “Public comments on SAGO members” by 27 October 2021.