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Cell Symposium: Viruses in Health and Disease

Viruses are ubiquitous; while they carry the potential to be beneficial, viral outbreaks can cripple a population as has been the case with SARS-CoV-2. As viruses can rapidly adapt and evolve, they present a continuous threat across species, thereby highlighting the need for a more complete understanding of viruses, from their host interactions through their structure and evolution. Technological advances have expanded the horizons of virology, illuminating how viruses shift from non- or mildly pathogenic to pandemic-potential strains, the viral makeup of and effects on the microbiome, and the ability to exploit the natural behavior of some viruses therapeutically. Despite these gains, we remain at a lag, as pathogenic viruses still prove difficult to treat and predict, while therapeutically engineered viruses have yet to reach their predicted potential.

This meeting will bring together research that encompasses basic and translational virology. We envision this meeting showcasing the ubiquity of viruses while highlighting commonalities among researchers, from technology through a standard goal of understanding how viruses behave and adapt and how this may be exploited for prediction of the next outbreak or leveraged for therapeutic development.

The scientific response to SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 continues to showcase how science has progressed, as the rapidity of basic and translational research has been second to none, while also revealing our weaknesses as a population. This meeting is both a celebration of how far virology has come and a forecast of what is next and the inroads to get us there.

Our topics will include:
1) Viruses Within: defining the virome; interaction with the microbiome; endogenous retroviruses in health and disease; tools and technologies
2) Viral Pathogens: evolution, genomics, spread, prediction, and pandemic preparedness of emerging and re-emerging viruses
3) Virus-Host Interaction: immunology, genetics, and host factors
4) Viruses as Therapeutics: diagnostics, phage therapy, viral vectors, and disease therapy
5) Targeting Viruses: Antivirals, Vaccines, Antibodies: lessons from the past; successes versus failures

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