On Thursday, February 13, 2020, Dr. Sarah Cobey gave a joint Math Biology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Seminar entitled “Immune memory, vaccination, and the dynamics of selection on Influenza viruses.” In addition to a remote connection to Dr. Sarah Redmond and her students at Radford University, a group of faculty and students from the Departments of Mathematics and Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech attended the talk.

Dr. Cobey discussed the importance of one’s first lifetime exposure to influenza as an indicator of protection to various circulating strains encountered later in life. Her in-depth analysis, using a combination of data, mathematical and computational models, gives insight into the dynamics of protective immunity. Her results suggest that antibody responses to influenza switch focus with age. Despite recent interest in coronavirus due to the current outbreak of COVID-2019, Dr. Cobey reminded us all of the on-going threat of seasonal flu and the challenges faced in developing better vaccines. 

Dr. Sarah Cobey is an associate professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. She earned her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan in 2009. Upon graduation, she joined the Center for Communicable Disease at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as a postdoctoral fellow before starting as faculty at the University of Chicago in 2013 where she has been the recipient of an NIH New Innovator Award and the James S. McDonnell Complex Systems Scholar Award.  Her lab studies how the host adaptive immune response coevolves with pathogens. 

For information on future talks in the Math-Bio series, see the Math Calendar or the Math-Bio Seminar site.