Ebola virus is headlining across the world, including at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. Erica Ollmann Saphire will present “The Molecular Toolkit of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers” as a part of the institute’s 2014–15 Frontiers in Biomedical Research Seminar Series. The lecture will take place on September 12, from 11 a.m. to noon, in R3012 at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke.
A professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbial Science at the Scripps Institute in San Diego, California, Ollmann Saphire studies viruses with compact genomes. Those viruses, including Ebola, offer the most functional “bang” for the polypeptide “buck,” according to Ollmann Saphire. These viruses are coded with only a few proteins, each of which is critically important to the function of the virus.
Ebola, specifically, has seven genes in its genome. Ollmann Saphire and her research team discovered the virus changes function by rearranging those seven genes throughout its lifetime. Ebola looks structurally different as an independent structure than it does as it invades a host. Learning how the physical, molecular changes of Ebola affect the virus’s function has provided invaluable insights for vaccine development.
The Frontiers in Biomedical Research Seminar Series is one of three programs at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, all of which aim to bring the top scientists to Roanoke. Information on all three programs may be found on the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute website.