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Todd Rider Has a Kill Switch for Viruses

The science savant has a possible cure for the common cold—and every other virus

The July issue of the science journal PLoS One detailed an explosive finding: a drug that creates a kind of viral self-destruct switch. In years to come it could be used to eradicate diseases from HIV to the common cold. “Forget the flu shot,” wrote Men’s Health. “How about a flu cure?”

Even more impressive, the study’s main researcher isn’t a doctor. Todd Rider entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986 at age 17 and left nine years later with four degrees, including a PhD in electrical engineering and computer science. He also minored in relativistic quantum field theory and solid state and optical physics. “Once you start on the path of the dark side, you are hooked,” jokes Rider of his obsession with science.