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Viruses under the Mathematical Microscope: Deciphering the Code of Viral Geometry

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Uploaded on May 10, 2011

Newton Institute Web Seminars: newton.ac.uk/webseminars
Cambridge University Science Festival lecture on Saturday 25 March 2011.

Viruses, such as hepatitis and the common cold, have highly ordered protein containers that encapsulate the viral genomic material. They act as Trojan horses, transporting the genomic material inside a cell to hijack the cellular mechanism and produce new viruses. Insights in how these capsids are organised are key to understanding how viruses work and how they can be defeated. In this talk, Reidun Twarock will explore virus architecture under the mathematical microscope. We will show that symmetry plays a key role for virus structure, and that mathematical tools similar to those used in the study of Penrose tilings provide novel insights that shed new light on viral evolution and on how viruses infect their hosts.

Reidun Twarock is Professor of Mathematical Biology at the University of York. She was a keynote speaker at the 2007 BA Festival of Science, and LMS Public lecturer in 2008.

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