These 3 Seattle Scientists Study the Coronavirus. Now They’re Getting Millions to Chase Their ‘Wildest Scientific Ideas’

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has recognized 33 scientists across the U.S. for outstanding scientific research, rewarding them with a total of $300M. Three Seattle-based scientists, Trevor Bedford, Frederick Masten IV and David Veesler are among the recipients, all of which have been studying COVID-19.

Bedford began working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2013, working with flu research and helping to launch Nextstrain. Later he worked on viral diseases such as Zika and Ebola. Samples Bedford collected from the Seattle Flu Study led to one of the first detected COVID-19 cases in Washington state.

“[The Flu Study] was designed around a pandemic early-warning system, where the key idea was that you can’t just have something that turns on in the case of a pandemic…You want a surveillance system that’s responding to seasonal respiratory virus… But I definitely did not think or have foresight that this would [detect] a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic in year two of a study like this,” said Trevor Bedford, HHMI recipient and computational biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.