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Title: Physical Aspects of Viral Infectivity
Originating Office: IAS
Speaker: Gelbart, William
Issue Date: 2-Apr-2012
Event Date: 2-Apr-2012
Group/Series/Folder: Record Group 8.15 - Institute for Advanced Study
Series 3 - Audio-visual Materials
Location: 8.15:3 box 1.8
Notes: IAS Distinguished Lecture.
Co-sponsored by School of Science.
Abstract: Viruses are dreaded disease agents and consummately evolving organisms whose structural, genetic, cellular, and immunological aspects have long been investigated by biologists and medical researchers. But viruses are also simple, inanimate, objects whose physical properties outside the cell can be fruitfully addressed by a wide range of theoretical and experimental approaches. In particular, we have found it useful to understand differences in the life cycles of RNA and DNA viruses in terms of the differences between RNA and DNA as physical objects. RNA, for example, is a significantly more compact and flexible molecule than DNA containing the same amount of genetic information. Accordingly, many RNA viruses are assembled spontaneously by interaction of their RNA genome with its capsid proteins, whereas genome packaging in most DNA viruses requires a great deal of work to be done and necessarily involves the build‐up of a high pressure in the capsid.
In this talk, Prof Gelbart discusses his calculations and measurements of the self‐assembly of RNA viruses from purified components and of the pressures and forces in DNA viruses. He features the role of statistical mechanical principles in developing the basic theory of these phenomena, and of the application of experimental techniques such as synchrotron small‐angle X‐ray scattering (SAXS), fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS), and cryo‐electron microscopy (cryo‐EM). Finally, he discusses his ongoing efforts to reconstitute an infectious enveloped virus outside the cell, and to similarly synthesize “from scratch” various hybrid virus‐like particles using a mix of components purified from plant and animal viruses.
Starting in the late 1970s, Prof Gelbart was a pioneer in the then emerging field of “complex fluids,” contributing significantly over the following two decades to the fundamental theory of liquid crystals, polymer solutions, colloids and nanoparticles, self‐assembling systems, and biological membranes. About 10 years ago he became intrigued by the physical basis of viral infectivity and, with his colleague Charles M. Knobler, established a laboratory to investigate a wide range of viruses outside their hosts and isolated in test tubes, thereby helping to launch the new discipline of “physical virology”.
Prof Gelbart’s research has been recognized by many awards, including the 1991 Lennard‐Jones Medal of the British Royal Society, a 1998 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2001 Liquids Prize of the American Chemical Society, election in 2009 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and endowed lectureships at the Curie Institute, Case Western Reserve University, Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Leeds, and the University of Pittsburgh. He also won the University Distinguished Teaching Award at UCLA in 1996.
Duration: 84 min.
Appears in Series:8.15:3 - Audio-visual Materials
6.2.1:3 - Audio-visual Materials
Videos for Public -- Distinguished Lectures