Professor: Iwjin De Vlaminck
Project Description: In this REU project we will use microfluidic and DNA sequencing technologies to assay the genetic diversity within viral communities. Viral populations, in particular in environments of high mutation and replication rate, do not consist of a single genome-type; rather, they consist of a group of closely related sequences. We will measure the genomic diversity of BK polyomaviruses in urine samples collected from kidney transplant patients. Organ transplant patients are treated with potent immunosuppressants to prevent complications of transplant rejection. We hypothesize that the diversity within viral groups correlates with immune strength. We will test this hypothesis with urine samples collected at various stages of immunosuppression. The REU student will work on this project in in close collaboration with a graduate student, and will learn a great deal about molecular biology, microfluidics and DNA sequencing technologies.