During OutsideIn in November, the talks are on microbial lives!
In the second session, Dr. Pleuni Pennings, of the San Francisco State University will speak about drug resistance in viruses and the speed of evolution! HIV was known as a fast-evolving virus. Now it doesn't evolve very quickly anymore, how did this happen?
I am an associate professor in biology at San Francisco State University. Before that, I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s at the University of Amsterdam and my PhD in Munich. I also worked as a postdoctoral scholar at Harvard and Stanford.
I am an evolutionary biologist and work mostly on viruses. My work is computational in nature, which means that my tool for research is a computer, not a laboratory. Most of my work consists of trying to think of smart ways to analyse data that was collected by other people.
Viruses are important (as I am sure, everyone knows now, in 2020) but they are also intriguing for me because they can evolve quickly. For many years, the HIV virus was known as an especially fast evolving virus. Someone on HIV treatment would go for check ups regularly, with a high chance that the virus in their body had evolved to become resistant to the drugs they were taking. If the virus had become resistant to the drugs, the patient would have to switch to another drug. Possibly a drug with more side effects. Nowadays, drug resistance evolution is much less common in HIV. The newest HIV drugs make it harder for the virus to evolve. This is, great news for patients. It is also exciting for evolutionary biologists. The idea that different (combinations of) drugs lead to different rates of evolution is super interesting to me and it makes me think whether there are other situations where we can influence the speed of evolution.

This set of talks is hosted by Dr. Deepa Agashe and Prof. R. Sowdhamini of the National Centre for Biological Sciences. 

4pm (IST) | 15 November, Sunday

Register for the November sessions here (us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kmVECe9kRUyQGni_pir8Nw)

OutsideIn is a set of Ecology talks curated for a young audience, but everyone is welcome to attend. For anyone who wonders what makes OutsideIn so special, read this article!