Research Group Computational Virology

Each person carries millions of small changes in his or her genome that define who we are but which also can make us more susceptible to diseases. We are interested in computationally dissecting the complex interplay of this genetic variation in order to identify those changes that are associated with course or severity of disease. Within RESIST we closely collaborate with Gesine Hansen and Thomas Pietschmann with the aim to uncover such genetic determinants for severe infection with the human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) among young children.

In addition, we want to understand whether the human virome constitutes another factor that influences infection susceptibility. We have recently developed a high-performance computing workflow for the identification of viral genomes in sequencing data that we will use to characterize the virome composition of a large collection of samples from diseased and healthy individuals. We will also seek for discovering unknown animal viruses that are closely related to pathogenic human viruses and may thus serve as experimental models or might provide new insights into virulence factors and evolution of their cousins in humans. Ultimately, we aim at associating known or newly discovered viruses to diseases with unexplained cause.

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