Statistical learning of viral fitness landscapes and protein folding funnels
The coupling of “big computing” – petascale systems and the multicore paradigm – with “big biology” – high-throughput sequencing and high-resolution molecular measurements – present new opportunities for data driven modeling of biological systems. In the first part of this talk, I will discuss the translation of clinical sequence databases into quantitative models of viral fitness based on spin glass models from statistical physics. In an application to hepatitis C virus, we identified particular viral vulnerabilities and rationally designed T-cell vaccines to hit the virus where is hurts. In the second part of this talk, I will describe an approach integrating ideas from dynamical systems theory and nonlinear machine learning to infer multidimensional biomolecular folding funnels from time series of a single experimentally measurable observable.
Andrew Ferguson is Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and an Affiliated Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Computational Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received an M.Eng. in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London in 2005, and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Princeton University in 2010. From 2010 to 2012 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard in the Department of Chemical Engineering at MIT. He commenced his appointment at Illinois in August 2012. His research interests lie at the intersection of materials science, molecular simulation, and machine learning, with particular foci in the design of antiviral vaccines and self-assembling colloids and peptides. He is the recipient of a 2015 ACS OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, a 2014 NSF CAREER Award, a 2014 ACS PRF Doctoral New Investigator, and was named the Institution of Chemical Engineers North America 2013 Young Chemical Engineer of the Year.
Molecular Engineering and Sciences Seminar Series
This weekly seminar brings together students, faculty and invited guests from various disciplines across campus to explore current trends in molecular engineering and nanotechnology. It is a forum for active interdisciplinary discussions. These talks are open to the public and attract a diverse audience of students and faculty.