The Science of Pandemic Technology

Co-Hosted with The Big Data Institute at The University of Oxford


June 2021 Seminar

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

9 AM PT / 12 PM ET / 6 PM CET



Register Now

The emergence of new mutations in SARS-CoV-2 and their implications

The emergence of novel variants has been a defining feature of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic over recent months. Each report of a novel variant kicks off a flurry of experimental studies that aim to characterize the phenotypic impacts of the newly observed mutations. 

Tyler Star will discuss their high-throughput experimental platform to prospectively map the impacts of all possible mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 RBD on key biochemical phenotypes such as receptor binding or antibody escape. For example, the map that they published last summer already indicated that the N501Y mutation enhanced receptor-binding affinity and receptor-mediated cellular entry, preceding the repeated observation of this mutant in variants of concern with increased transmissibility that emerged in the fall and winter. Their maps also enable the tailoring and design of antibody therapeutics in light of local surveillance of viral variation. Learn about how their maps, together with other studies in viral evolution, reveal about the potential future evolution of this virus.

Katrina Lythgoe will discuss the emergence and spread of a growing number of variants of concern. Fundamentally, any new mutation, or combination of mutations, arises during an infection. She will describe their work on the within-host diversity and transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and discuss the implications for their understanding of how new variants of concern arise and spread.

Meet The Speakers

tyler headshot

Tyler Starr

Tyler is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Jesse Bloom at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington. Tyler studies the molecular evolution of proteins in viruses and immunity. Over the last year, he developed an experimental “deep mutational scanning” platform to comprehensively map the biochemical impacts of mutations in a key domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. These maps enable rapid evaluation of the potential phenotypic consequences for newly observed SARS-CoV-2 variants, and are being used to evaluate and design antibody and vaccine therapeutics.

katrina headshot

Katrina Lythgoe

Katrina is a Group Leader and Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the University of Oxford. She studies the evolution and epidemiology of viruses, and up until a year ago she mainly focussed on viruses causing long-term infections, like HIV, hepatitis C virus, and hepatitis B virus. Over the last year, she has also been working on SARS-CoV-2, including developing epidemiological models forecasting its spread, and looking at the genetic diversity of the virus within individuals, and how much of this diversity is transmitted between individuals.

Coordinating Committee Co-Chairs

Joanna Masel, PhD

Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at The University of Arizona

Luca Ferretti, PhD

Senior Researcher in Statistical Genetics and Pathogen DynamicsBig Data Institute, The University of Oxford

Watch the previous seminars on-demand

The Science of Pandemic Technology Seminar Series is dedicated to showcasing the latest and best available scientific research to inform digital health innovation for COVID response. Subscribe to learn more about upcoming events and join the Science of Pandemic Technology community.

Topics for future presentations and panel discussions

Contributors to this series include some of the leading experts in exposure science, epidemiology, virology, public health, infectious disease, Bluetooth technology, pathogen dynamics, health communications, behavioral economics, privacy, cybersecurity and digital health innovation.

EN Technology

Evaluating the efficacy of digital proximity tracing and exposure notification apps

Risk Scoring Models

Protocols for establishing risk thresholds for exposure notifications

Health Communication

Effective communications strategies to drive app adoption, foster public trust, and promote behavior change

When to Quarantine

Cost-benefit analysis of quarantine guidelines

Ethics & Health Equity

Ethical frameworks and health equity considerations for pandemic technology innovation

Exposure Science

Microbial exposure science of modes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2: Implications for risk assessment and prevention

“Last week’s event was awesome! There were 5 from my department that attended as well, they also wrote to say how much they enjoyed the debate."

Keep up with us!

Loving Science of Pandemic Technology? Sign up to get the latest news, insights, and to learn about upcoming sessions.