With his curly locks, beard, and swarthy complexion, epidemiologist Nathan Wolfe seems to fit right in with the hunters he works with in Cameroon. Sometimes, he even wears one of their traditional robes, blue with gold embroidery, just in case.
"He's quite well-accepted," says Don Burke of Pittsburgh University, his former postdoctoral adviser who met Wolfe at a conference on emerging diseases. They shared a common interest in the role of nonhuman primates in transmission, and Wolfe joined Burke to help start a study in Cameroon.
Upon arriving at a tiny village, Wolfe meets with elders, holds tribal meetings, and befriends the townspeople while learning dialects and how to wheel and deal like a local. Burke vouches that Wolfe's a "ferocious bargainer."
Local villagers help Wolfe study human disease back to its source: possibly the bushmeat favored by Cameroon hunters or the live and freshly butchered animals...
Title: Professor of Epidemiology, University of California, Los Angeles