Computational molecular evolution
Evolution is one of the keys to understanding biology, including biomedicine. For instance, we work on seemingly disparate phenomena as the biodiversity in our environment, resistance of viruses to therapies, or development of cancer, all of which can be understood in the light of evolution in ecosystems and organisms. Another unifying viewpoint on biology is the molecular level, where all biology speaks the same language of genes, proteins, etc. In our research we bring together both unifying aspects of biology by discovering the mechanics of evolution at the molecular level.
An example to illustrate this mode of work is the discovery of specific genetic mutations of viruses. By statistical analysis of data collected from many patients, we identify mutations that allow a virus such as HIV-1 or HCV to evade the immune systems of patients. By computational modeling, we study physical effects of these mutations on the affected molecules to gain a quantitative, mechanistic understanding of this evolutionary process at the molecular level.