Johann Friedrich Miescher Regents Professor in Molecular Biology
Department of Integrative Biology
University of Texas at Austin
Evolution of Genomes Engineered for Disease Control
Genetic Engineering now enables the design of many transmissible interventions in disease control. Some designs are aimed at disease vectors (mosquitoes), others enable vaccines that are transmissible. The desirability of engineered transmissible agents is controversial, but there are equally dynamical and evolutionary considerations that affect the feasibility and success of these interventions. This talk will introduce the spectrum of new-feasible transmissible disease interventions, evaluate prospects for short-term evolution to undermine them, and suggest engineering designs that may thwart the unwanted evolution.
James Bull is the Johann Friedrich Miescher Regents Professor in Molecular Biology at the University of Texas, Austin. Evolutionary genetics from the molecular to the phenotypic levels comprises the bulk of Dr. Bull's research. Specific topics include the evolution of engineered genomes, microbial drug resistance, and adaptation addressed empirically and theoretically. Experimental systems are developed in which evolution occurs over short time periods in the laboratory; the evolved lines are then analyzed at the molecular genetic level, so that the course of evolution is known with certainty. Research organisms are chiefly bacteriophage, enabling complete genome sequencing. Students are encouraged to initiate their research on a well-defined model system to gain experience and then expand their research to problems of their own design.