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Department of Mathematics Special Colloquium

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This special colloquium will host a faculty candidate for math biology.

Speaker: Claus Kadelka, Institute of Medical Virology, University of Zurich, Switzerland; Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Title: Computational HIV Vaccinology and the Robustness of Gene Regulatory Networks

Abstract: My talk will be split into two parts: first, my current work in computational HIV vaccinology; and second, robustness analyses of gene regulatory networks (GRNs).

HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) are the major hope for an effective HIV vaccine and therapy development, but are only elicited at low frequency in natural HIV infection. We recently conducted a systematic survey of bnAb activity in 4,484 HIV-1 infected individuals, and identified several viral and disease parameters associated with bnAb development, as well as antibody binding patterns predictive of bnAb existence. Through phylogenetic HIV sequence analysis, we further identified more than 300 likely transmission pairs, and exhibited, for the first time, that parts of the HIV antibody response are heritable.

The second part of my talk focuses on the development and analysis of time- and state-discrete dynamical system models (generalized Boolean networks) to better understand GRNs and their surprisingly high robustness to noise and perturbations. My research aims to identify the mechanisms underlying this robustness, by relating network topology to network dynamics. I will characterize the class of canalizing functions, which is well-suited to model the interactions in GRNs, and the occurrence of these functions buffers GRNs against noise.