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Mon, 12 Mar 2018
RNA virus evolution and the predictability of next year's flu

Time: 10.00 AM - 11.00 AM

Venue: Cysteine, Level 7 (30 Biopolis Street, Matrix)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Richard Neher, 12 March 2018, 10.00am, Cysteine, Level 7 (30 Biopolis Street, Matrix)


RNA viruses like HIV or influenza virus evolve rapidly and thereby evade human immunity. We have performed whole genome deep sequencing of longitudinal samples spanning 5-10 years from acute to chronic HIV infection. From these data, we estimate the landscape of fitness costs at every nucleotide in the genome and characterize the the complex dynamics of immune escape and reversion.

Similarly, influenza viruses change their antigenic properties rapidly and the seasonal influenza vaccine needs to be updated whenever the viruses change antigenically. To facilitate timely and informed decisions on the influenza vaccine composition, we have developed, an automated real-time analysis tool that ingests influenza virus sequences, analyzes those data phylogenetically, and presents the results to the user via an interactive and intuitive web-tool. In addition to tracking, also implements methods that predict which viral variant is most likely going to dominate the upcoming season. Beyond seasonal influenza, phylogenetic analysis and molecular epidemiology can help elucidate transmission patterns in public health crisis. During the recent outbreaks of Ebola virus in West Africa and Zika virus in the Americas, we have used our tools to analyze viral genomes immediately after they are sequenced.

About The Speaker
Richard Neher studied physics at the Universities of Göttingen and Munich, where he graduated with his doctorate in 2007. After three years of postdoctoral research at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, he returned to Germany in 2010 heading a research group at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, in the field of evolutionary dynamics and biophysics. Since 2016, he is Associate Professor of Computational Modeling of Biological Processes at the Biozentrum in Basel, Switzerland. In 2017, Richard Neher won, together with Trevor Bedford, the Open Science Prize for their work on

Dr. Sebastian Maurer-Stroh, Senior Principal Investigator / Programme Director Human Infectious Diseases

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