What we do

Our focus is on virus research and we have both a local and global remit. Viruses are a major burden on human and animal health. RNA viruses in particular, due to their high evolutionary rates, are a major cause of human illness. For example, HIV-1 and influenza infect many millions of people globally, while others such as Ebola emerge in devastating outbreaks. More broadly across the tree of life viruses infect all known organisms and are major players in microbial communities. Viruses host-specificity can also be harnessed for therapeutic use, for example, in the case of oncolytic viruses that preferentially target cancer cells or the use of phage to lyse malevolent bacteria. Virus infection of cells, however, is complex. It involves a high-degree of receptor specificity, the need to mimic many 100s of normal host-host molecular interactions to control the host system in an orchestrated manner and circumvent counter measures of the host immune response. We thus need appropriate computational representations of this data that capture its complexity and usefully combines different data types in formats that be visualised and analysed appropriately. Our aim as a research centre is to further scientific understanding of how viruses exploit host cells and harness this knowledge to create better interventions such as drugs, vaccines or improved public health measures.

Who we are

The increasing size and complexity of experimental data sets in virology, coupled with the need to integrate newly generated data with existing public data sets and perform meta-analysis, necessitates high levels of computational expertise in contemporary biology. Dedicated computational/data-driven research teams are thus a necessity in successful research institutes. The increasing size and complexity of data sets also necessitate the increased use of data science/machine learning approaches in our research. Our bioinformatics group is comprised of a team of research scientists who support the bioinformatics research needs of the CVR and have their own independent research interests, postdocs who are dedicated to specific research projects, independently funded research fellows and PhD students who work with our team and supervisors across the University of Glasgow. These individuals are from a range of training background from computer science, maths and biological sciences. Most have attended a Masters-level course in bioinformatics or a related discipline, and have a PhD in virology related research. See Our People for more details.