Wen Jiang

01-07-2010

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

Anybody who's had a cold knows the problem with viruses, but the problem goes well beyond a clogged nose and bad cough. Viruses also cause diseases – from AIDS and Ebola to SARS and Swine Flu – deadline for millions of people around the world. Viral infections remain one of the major threats to human health. Many viruses consist of a highly symmetric icosahedral protein shell that encapsulates the genetic materials. A high-resolution, three-dimensional schematic of that structure, if available, could provide important insights for understanding viral infections and developing more effective prevention and treatment strategies.

Dr. Jiang, using ITaP research computing resources, is generating such images, along with knowledge about the structure of viruses that could eventually lead to new ways of battling them by targeting their basic functionality. Jiang uses electron cryo-microscopy, or cryo-EM, to look at the inner workings of large molecular machines such as viruses, the target system on which his lab mostly focuses for now. The goal is to solve the 3-D structure of a virus at near-atomic resolution, the better to understand its mechanisms, including how a virus infects a host.

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