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Department of Mathematical Sciences

Public Lecture 2015

Professor Reidun Twarock

York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis and Departments of Mathematics and Biology, York University

`Geometry: A secret weapon in the fight against viruses'

5 March 2015, 5.15pm, CLC013

Abstract: Viruses are responsible for a wide range of devastating illnesses, yet therapy options are still limited. Mathematics provides a unique opportunity to gain a new perspective on how viruses form and how their formation may be prevented by novel anti-viral strategies. This is due to the fascinating structural properties of virus particles, which look like tiny containers that share geometric properties with footballs. The Twarock group has developed new mathematical tools that have provided unprecedented insights into the geometric constraints on virus structure. In an inter-dependent interdisciplinary collaboration with experimentalists in Leeds, these new tools have been used to reveal features in the formation of viruses that could not have been identified by experiment alone, and that can potentially be targeted by new anti-viral strategies. In this talk, I will demonstrate how geometry can help to better understand how viruses form and evolve. I will explain how these insights have resulted in the discovery of an Achilles’ Heel in virus formation, and outline how this discovery provides a new perspective in the fight against viruses.

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Reidun Twarock is a German-born Professor of Mathematical Biology at York University. She is known for developing mathematical models of viruses based on higher-dimensional lattices.