Bioinformatics Forum: Systems Biology of Viral Pathogenesis and Immunity: Where are Google and IBM?

Michael G. Katze (University of Washington, Seattle)
Wednesday, 14.3.2012, 11:30
Taub 401

After decades of research, vaccines against some of the greatest viral threats are still lacking and antiviral drugs remain few and slow in coming. These shortcomings point to the need for new approaches that go beyond traditional virology methods. High-throughput technologies and computational biology promise to deliver a much-needed boost to the field. My laboratory is using systems biology and computational approaches to understand and model integrated views of virus-host interactions, viral evasion of host defenses, and viral pathogenesis. Much of our work is focused on viruses responsible for worldwide pandemics, including influenza virus, hepatitis C virus, and human immunodeficiency virus. As new experimental systems and technologies continue to come online, such as mouse systems genetics, metabolomics, lipidomics, and next-generation sequencing, our systems-level views have expanded to encompass host genetic variation, metabolic pathways, epigenetics, microRNAs, and long noncoding RNAs. Because this amount of information is beyond the capacity of human intuition to grasp, mathematical frameworks and computational models must be constructed. Such models are necessary to predict how molecular components work together to yield operational mechanisms and phenotypic outcome. Models also provide predictions for how to most effectively design new diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. The combination of high-throughput datasets and computational methods provides best hope for understanding viral pathogenesis and speeding vaccine and drug development.

Michael Katze is a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Washington and Associate Director and Core Staff Scientist at the Washington National Primate Research Center. He is also Director of the Center for Systems and Translational Research on Infectious Disease (STRIDE). He has studied virus-host interactions for more than 30 years and is a world leader in the use of systems biology approaches, including high-throughput technologies and computational methods, to understand, define and model virus-host interactions in a broad range of experimental systems.

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