CIE Seminar Series 2016 – Keeping an eye on animal viruses: global spread, evolution and zoonotic potential

Soren.jpgSPEAKER: Professor Soren Alexandersen, Director, Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID), School of Medicine, Faculty of Health, Deakin University

DATE: Friday, 27th May 2016
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, room ka5.303
TIME: 1:30pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, room HD2.006 (Richard Searby Rm) and Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13

ABSTRACT: Viruses evolve relatively quickly and this is in particular the case for viruses with RNA or single stranded DNA genomes. Such viruses do not have significant proof reading activity of their polymerases during viral replication and consequently, the production of new virus genomes are error prone generating what is efficiently a swarm of slightly different virus genomes during replication.

Furthermore, the high error rate restricts their genome size, as a large genome with many errors would likely contain lethal errors and thus be an evolutionary disadvantage leading to bottleneck extinction.

In consequence, RNA and single stranded DNA viruses may replicate to a very high level (small genomes) that, together with the high error rate, provides a huge swarm of slightly different genomes that allows for rapid evolution by selection and thus may facilitate potential changes in e.g. host specificity.

In the presentation a general overview of how we prepare for and study such viruses are given together with specific examples of work on a number of animal and zoonotic viruses including foot-and-mouth disease virus, avian influenza virus and various coronaviruses.

BIO: Soren Alexandersen is a Veterinary Pathologist, Virologist and Epidemiologist specialising in molecular pathogenesis, epidemiology and control of virus infections since 1982.

He has worked at the NIH in Montana and at Iowa State University in the USA and has previously been Assistant and Associate Professor of Veterinary Pathology, Research Professor of Molecular Pathobiology and Professor and Chair of Veterinary Virology at the Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark.

He was then Director of the Danish Veterinary Institute for Virus Research at the Island of Lindholm for 5 years before leaving for the Institute for Animal Health in Pirbright, England in 1999. At Pirbright he was Head of Experimental Epidemiology focussing on foot-and-mouth disease and swine vesicular disease. In August 2004 he returned to the Danish Veterinary Institute for Virus Research, Denmark, as Research Professor and Head of Section to work on serious OIE listed virus infections of livestock.

In 2008 he became the Director of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD) in Winnipeg, Canada and in July 2010 the Executive Director of the National Centres for Animal Disease (NCAD) including the NCFAD laboratory in Winnipeg and the Lethbridge Laboratory in Alberta.

In October 2015 he joined Deakin University as a Professor and Director of the Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (GCEID), a collaboration including Deakin University, Barwon Health/University Hospital Geelong and the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

He has also been Adjunct Professor of Pathology and Exotic Virology at the Faculty of Life Sciences of the University of Copenhagen. He has worked and given invited lectures in most parts of the world and has published more than 130 international scientific papers.

He holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, a PhD in Veterinary Pathology and a DVSc in Molecular Virology from the Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Pathologists and a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the United Kingdom.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Natasha Kaukov.

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