SC 2018 Semilab: Viruses: Bad, Good, and Great


by Ioulia Rouzina

In this introductory semilab we'll learn about the simplest nature-optimized machines for self-reproduction in other organisms: viruses. We'll try to compete with nature by making our own self-reproducing machines by mixing and matching functions of existing viruses. On the way, we'll learn many fundamental principles of modern biology, and will see how major discoveries are being made by studying viruses right now. We'll also find out why it is beneficial for some viruses to destroy their hosts, while it works better for the others to help them. It appears that up to 20% of mammalian genomes are of viral origin, and some of them are useful for producing essential human proteins. We'll see how viruses cause deathly diseases, and how they can be used to cure different illnesses. We will brainstorm other possibilities for using viruses in medicine in the future.

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