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K-State News

K-State News
Kansas State University
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National Geographic is producing a limited series called THE HOT ZONE, which is based on the 1994 best-seller by Richard Preston and is inspired by the true story of the arrival of Ebola on U.S. soil in 1989 in Reston, Virginia. THE HOT ZONE involves two prominent Kansas State University veterinarians and leaders: Nancy and Jerry Jaax.

The six-part limited series premieres on National Geographic at 8 p.m. on Monday, May 27, and will air over three nights. Julianna Margulies plays Lt. Col. Nancy Jaax and Noah Emmerich plays Lt. Col. Jerry Jaax.

To coincide with the TV series and celebrate the work of Nancy and Jerry Jaax, Kansas State University is organizing several events in Manhattan and Kansas City. The university hosted a May 7 advance screening of the premiere of THE HOT ZONE followed by a panel discussion with the real-life subjects of the series, Nancy and Jerry Jaax, along with the showrunners, writers and executive producers Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders.

Details about other events will be posted soon.

K-State connections

Nancy and Jerry Jaax

Download the above photo.

Nancy and Jerry Jaax both graduated with veterinary medicine degrees from Kansas State University and served in medical defense with the U.S. Army, during which time they became involved in the events depicted in THE HOT ZONE.

Following the events of 1989 and after stellar military careers, Jerry and Nancy returned to Manhattan. Jerry joined the university and served in a prominent research leadership position to further the university's biodefense mission. Nancy participated in innumerable infectious disease initiatives at the university. 

Both Jerry and Nancy played important roles in the development of Kansas State University's biocontainment facility called the Biosecurity Research Institute, or BRI, at Pat Roberts Hall. Nancy inspired the need for a training lab based on her experience with Ebola. They also assisted in winning the national competition for the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, which is under construction north of the university's Manhattan campus. Once NBAF becomes operational in 2022-2023, it will be America's foremost animal disease research facility. 

K-State advance screening

On May 7, Kansas State University hosted an advance screening and panel discussion of THE HOT ZONE.

Watch the below video of Kansas State University President Richard Myers leading a panel discussion with THE HOT ZONE real-life subjects, Nancy and Jerry Jaax, and showrunners, writers and executive producers Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders. 

View photos below from the panel discussion.

Other videos

Watch the above video of real-life subjects Nancy and Jerry Jaax discussing THE HOT ZONE at the Los Angeles premiere. 

View a K-State video of Nancy and Jerry Jaax discussing safety.

Watch an MHKTedx talk by Jerry Jaax.

See Julianna Margulies talk about THE HOT ZONE.

Upcoming events

To coincide with the TV series and celebrate the work of Nancy and Jerry, K-State is organizing a summer 2019 event in the Kansas City area. Details will be posted soon. 


Download the following poster graphic.
 The Hot Zone

News releases and stories

National Geographic's THE HOT ZONE shows biosecurity's importance
Ron Trewyn, Kansas State University NBAF liaison, writes to encourage people to watch THE HOT ZONE, a National Geographic limited series inspired by two K-Staters and their work during the 1989 Ebola-related outbreak in Virginia.

Kansas State University zoonotic disease research fights viruses in the hot zone
Kansas State University researchers are helping battle most of the nation's top-priority zoonotic diseases.

THE HOT ZONE connects with university's long history as 'Silicon Valley for biodefense'
For more than 150 years, Kansas State University has been a national leader in animal health, biosciences and food safety research. Now the university and its leaders are again being highlighted for their biodefense efforts.