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National Geographic's The Hot Zone

  • Forum Hall, K-State Student Union 918 N 17th Street Manhattan United States (map)

Two Kansas State University veterinarians and leaders — Nancy and Jerry Jaax — and their response to an Ebola-related outbreak have inspired the upcoming National Geographic limited series, THE HOT ZONE. 

Kansas State University will host 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. President Richard Myers will provide introductory remarks. 

The event is free and open to the public. The advance screening will be the first screening following the show’s debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. 

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.

"Nancy and Jerry Jaax are renowned leaders, scientists and veterans," Kansas State University President Richard Myers said. "We are honored that National Geographic is telling their story through THE HOT ZONE and we want to recognize these two K-Staters for their bravery and heroic research contributions. Leaders like Nancy and Jerry Jaax are true examples of what makes K-State the 'Silicon Valley for biodefense.'" 

THE HOT ZONE is based on the 1994 bestseller 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 story involves two prominent Kansas State University leaders: Nancy and Jerry Jaax. Both graduated with veterinary medicine degrees from the university and served in medical defense with the U.S. Army, during which time they became involved in the events depicted in the series. 

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. 

To coincide with National Geographic’s THE HOT ZONE and celebrate the work of Nancy and Jerry, Kansas State University is organizing several events in Manhattan and Olathe in the coming weeks. Details will be posted at

This screening is co-sponsored with the Office of the President and Division of Communications and Marketing.

Later Event: May 9
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