Aileen O’Hearn leads scientific research efforts for HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, ensuring quality and clarity of science in films and supporting content. She produces related classroom resources with HHMI BioInteractive, and covers a wide range of topics including antibiotic resistance, genetic medicine, emerging diseases and the microbiome. O’Hearn joined HHMI Tangled Bank Studios in 2016, using her expertise in emerging infectious disease and microbiology for documentary films such as “Spillover: Zika, Ebola & Beyond” and the digital series “I Contain Multitudes.”
Prior to working with HHMI, O’Hearn conducted research at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland. She developed new biodefense diagnostics for hemorrhagic fever and arthropod-borne viruses such as Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, chikungunya and dengue, researched human pathogens in Biosafety Level 4 facilities and at Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone, and provided on-site hospital support in West Africa during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
O’Hearn holds a doctorate in microbiology and immunology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she focused on zoonotic pathogens and high-throughput screening for drug targets of infection, and a Bachelor of Science in zoology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. O’Hearn became a National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certified EMT in 2015.