Van Dijk Receives $ 1.25 Million Grant To Demystify Complexity Of Viral Infection With Algorithms

David van Dijk, PhD, assistant professor of medicine and computer science, received $ 1.25 million over five years MIRA R35 scholarship of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) for a new project, “An integrative, data-driven and computational approach to discovering the dynamic mechanisms of early viral infection”.

The proposal aims to develop data-driven computational approaches to identify distinct biomarkers of viral infection.

The technology shows great promise for the treatment of the disease. To generate new therapies, scientists need to synthesize biological data sets in order to identify patterns in viral particles. Van Dijk is at the forefront of a new technique known as single-cell RNA sequencing or scRNA-seq, which provides valuable information about active genes in thousands of individual cells.

This new proposal builds on an earlier project, co-led by Van Dijk and Craig Wilen, MD, PhD, assistant professor of laboratory medicine and immunobiology, on single-cell analysis of the dynamics of SARS infection. CoV-2 to determine how the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects and damages healthy cells.

The study funded by NIGMS will van Dijk laboratory to use biomedical machine learning algorithms to reveal the genetic determinants of viral infection and improve our ability to predict and manage disease progression. Using this information, the lab will focus on generating new hypotheses for a variety of pathological contexts.

“This proposal promises to build approaches applicable to all biological systems and processes, to change our mechanistic understanding of viral infection and, in the future, to support therapeutic design,” said Van Dijk.

Submitted by Elisabeth Reitman on November 16, 2021

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