Anita Barry, a veteran disease investigator for the city of Boston, was at Logan International Airport, briefing officials about a worrisome new virus, when her cellphone jangled.
The nation’s largest cigarette maker has paid for scientific research at four Massachusetts universities since 2000, a practice that critics of the tobacco industry liken to the Mafia underwriting crime fighting.
For a decade, disease trackers have watched anxiously as avian influenza has migrated from Asia to Europe and on to Africa, devastating poultry flocks and wild birds. To humans, it has proved — so far — less of a widespread peril, lacking the genetic machinery necessary for efficient person-to-person transmission. Just 348 people have been infected worldwide since 2003.