Systems Biology Approaches to Viral Pathogenesis and Immunity: Where are Google and IBM?

CII Distinguished Lecture Series
Monday, October 31, 2011

Humphrey's Auditorium
Vanderbilt Clinic - 622 W. 168th Street
14th Floor, Room 240

Systems Biology Approaches to Viral Pathogenesis and Immunity: Where are Google and IBM?

Michael G. Katze, Ph.D.
Department of Microbiology and Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington

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 signal the need for new approaches that go beyond traditional virology methods. High-throughput technologies and computational biology are poised 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 defense mechanisms, and viral pathogenesis. Much of our work is focused on the viruses responsible for current worldwide pandemics, including influenza, 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, microRNAs, and long noncoding RNAs. Because this amount of information is beyond the capacity of human intuition to grasp and formulate predictions—such as for how to most effectively design new therapeutics or vaccines—it is beyond question that 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 facilitate a conceptual understanding of the coordination of the various facets of the overall system. The combination of high-throughput datasets and computational methods provides best hope for speeding vaccine and drug development.

About Dr. Katze:

Dr. Katze is 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 the Program Director for a National Institute on Drug Abuse P30 Center on Functional Genomics and HCV-Associated Liver Disease, Co-Director of the Pacific Northwest Regional Center of Excellence, and 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 define and model virus-host interactions and the varied strategies used by viruses to evade host defense mechanisms. These approaches are applied a broad range of experimental systems, including those focused on influenza virus, hepatitis C virus (HCV), Ebola virus, SARS-associated coronavirus, and simian and human immunodeficiency viruses.

Questions?  Please contact John Halpin at