September 13, 2012

IST Lecture: Arnold J. Levine

"How does the Influenza virus escape the immune system?"

On September 12, IST Austria had the great pleasure to welcome Arnold J. Levine for his IST Lecture on "How does the Influenza virus escape the immune system?". Arnold J.  Levine is Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he leads The Simons Center for Systems Biology. He is trained in virology and cancer research and has received several prizes for his work, including the Medal of Honor 2009 of the American Cancer Society. He now uses the tools of computation to explore the structure of information and its utilization in living organisms.

In his lecture, Arnold J. Levine presented his research on why the Influenza virus caused a devastating pandemic in 1918. To explore the dynamics of Influenza epidemics, he has computationally analyzed the nucleotide sequence from isolated Influenza viruses which caused infections in the past century. Arnold J. Levine’s work showed that the transmission of avian Influenza viruses to humans provokes considerable attacks by the human innate immune system. This overreaction, called ‘cytokine storm’, may lead to organ failure and subsequently death.

Arnold J. Levine’s lecture drew more than 100 visitors to IST Austria’s Raiffeisen Lecture Hall. His talk was followed by a lively discussion with the audience.