Growing Together: How Viruses Have Shaped Human Evolution
Presented by Shirlee Wohl and Katherine Wu. Fall Seminar 2015 Series.Think of a virus, and you'll likely think of an infection - Ebola, HIV, mononucleosis. But in actuality, the viruses that infect humans make up an infinitesimally small percentage of the total number on Earth, now estimated to be in the range of 1031. Neither truly "alive" nor "dead," viruses are miniscule but complex pieces of machinery whose evolution has become intricately entwined with ours. In this lecture, we will explore the benefits viruses have on their hosts, as well as how we can manipulate their abilities to benefit human health. Shirlee will begin with an introduction to viruses: she will describe what viruses are, where they are located within the human body, and the viral life cycle. She will then focus on retroviruses, a specific type of virus used for gene therapy. Next, Katie will introduce the human virome, which consists of all the viruses in the human body, and how these viruses possibly benefit their hosts. She will then talk about two types of viral technologies, phage therapy and the recently developed diagnostic test VirScan.