"Visualizing the Architecture and Assembly Dynamics of Influenza Viral RNA"
Seema Lakdawala (University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine)
Dr. Seema Lakdawala is an Assistant Professor in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department at the University of Pittsburgh. The Lakdawala lab studies the molecular properties contributing to the epidemiological success of influenza A viruses to better predict future pandemics. There are two main areas of research in her lab 1) exploring the dynamics of influenza viral RNA assembly and 2) defining properties necessary for efficient airborne transmission of influenza viruses. Using a combination of biochemical, microscopy, and engineering techniques the Lakdawala lab has made several recent discoveries on the architecture of the viral genome and the stability of influenza viruses in aerosols. Finally, using a custom light-sheet microscope the Lakdawala lab can visualize the transport dynamics of influenza viral RNA with high spatial and temporal resolution. Combining these areas of research, they hope to develop a comprehensive surveillance system to determine the pandemic potential of circulating zoonotic influenza viruses, which will be useful in all areas of pandemic preparedness.