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IU researchers studying dangerous virus

BRII helps IU researchers to safely study dangerous pathogens

Research being done on dangerous viruses at IU is aided by Big Red II

It is flu season! Have you ever wondered where your flu shot came from? Like many vaccines, the influenza vaccine is created from strains of the virus which are selected and replicated in a laboratory.

But how do we deal with vaccines that are too hazardous to handle in lab setting? One IU researcher is leading the way. Daniel Biner, IU graduate student in the Department of Chemistry does research which “revolves around computationally-aided, early-stage vaccine discovery for hazardous-to-handle pathogens. The goal is to use protein structural fluctuation to discover high performing vaccine design strategies with Zika virus as the demonstration construct.”

Zika virus

Zika virus-like particle

Many of the computations that Biner needs are performed on IU’s Big Red II supercomputer. Beyond the safety that computer modeling viruses provides, he says that, “Big Red II provides the resources to exploit and explore computational-experimental workflows for more cost-efficient, reproducible, persuasive, and impactful findings.” and “a high-performance workflow for benchmarking new techniques for increasing simulation computational efficiency, which allows the exploration of scientific questions requiring larger simulation sizes and longer simulation times.”

When asked about the benefits of working with BRII, Biner added that “in general, my work is very interdisciplinary encompassing multiple fields from physics to immunology. Also, while being very safe, BRII provides very tangible data for forecasting solutions to future and current public health concerns of societal significance.” He continued by saying “More broadly, my research taps into the very fundamental physical processes behind protein-protein interaction, a driving force for biology,” expounding on the interdisciplinary nature of the research.