Viral vaccines have had remarkable and long-lasting impacts on human health, resulting in the worldwide eradication of smallpox, the elimination of polio within much of the developed world, and the effective control of many other diseases. Although great strides have been made in the development and production of vaccines since Edward Jenner’s first vaccinations with cowpox in the early 1800’s, little has changed in the way vaccines are delivered. Even today, virtually every vaccine must be given directly to the patient. Recent advances in molecular biology suggest that the centuries-old method of individual-based vaccine delivery could be on the cusp of a major revolution. Specifically, genetic engineering brings to life the possibility of a “transmissible vaccine.” Rather than directly vaccinating every individual within a population, a transmissible vaccine would allow large swaths of the population to be vaccinated effortlessly by releasing an infectious agent that is genetically engineered to be benign yet infectious. In fact, some existing vaccines are transmissible to a limited extent, and transmissible vaccines have already been developed and deployed in wild animal populations. Remarkably enough, however, no theory exists to guide the safe and effective use of this revolutionary new type of vaccine. We will develop a mathematical framework for understanding the ecology and evolution of transmissible vaccines, and test the emerging mathematical results using an experimental viral system. Epidemiological efficacy will be assessed by calculating the gains in disease protection conferred by a transmissible vaccine relative to a traditional vaccine. Evolutionary robustness will be explored using models that predict the rate at which a genetically engineered vaccine will lose its efficacy or increase its virulence. In both cases, models will be analyzed using a combination of direct and asymptotic solutions, approximations, numerical solutions, and individual-based simulations. Key mathematical results will be tested experimentally using interactions between bacteria and viruses that infect them.
All-Hands Virtual Poster SessionMay 13, 2020
IMCI is hosting a virtual poster session as part of the GenoPheno All-Hands meeting for the EPSCoR Track-2 project on May 28-29. You are invited to participate. We are asking each presenter to create a 1-minute YouTube video that briefly introduces your research. A link to these “elevator pitch” videos will be included with the […]
University of Idaho Works to Develop Cure for COVID-19April 21, 2020
This press release was written by Leigh Cooper in University of Idaho Communications and Marketing. View the original press release here. See the article published in the Idaho Press here. Dr. Marty Ytreberg is the Associate Director of IMCI. MOSCOW, Idaho — April 20, 2020 —The University of Idaho is working to identify a cure for coronaviruses, […]
Genotypes to PhenotypesJune 26, 2019
On June 17-19, the team working on the RII Track-2 FEC: Using Biophysical Protein Models to Map Genetic Variation to Phenotypes met in Moscow for their 2nd annual All-Hands meeting. This research is a collaborative effort between the University of Idaho, Brown University and the University of Vermont. There are over 60 participants in the […]