RNA Virus Evolution: a Cross-scale, Disease Dynamic Perspective

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Date

2016

Authors

Scholle, Stacy O'Neil

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Koelle, Katharina

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Abstract

RNA viruses are an important cause of global morbidity and mortality. The rapid evolutionary rates of RNA virus pathogens, caused by high replication rates and error-prone polymerases, can make the pathogens difficult to control. RNA viruses can undergo immune escape within their hosts and develop resistance to the treatment and vaccines we design to fight them. Understanding the spread and evolution of RNA pathogens is essential for reducing human suffering. In this dissertation, I make use of the rapid evolutionary rate of viral pathogens to answer several questions about how RNA viruses spread and evolve. To address each of the questions, I link mathematical techniques for modeling viral population dynamics with phylogenetic and coalescent techniques for analyzing and modeling viral genetic sequences and evolution. The first project uses multi-scale mechanistic modeling to show that decreases in viral substitution rates over the course of an acute infection, combined with the timing of infectious hosts transmitting new infections to susceptible individuals, can account for discrepancies in viral substitution rates in different host populations. The second project combines coalescent models with within-host mathematical models to identify driving evolutionary forces in chronic hepatitis C virus infection. The third project compares the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic viral transmission rate variation on viral phylogenies.

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Scholle, Stacy O'Neil (2016). RNA Virus Evolution: a Cross-scale, Disease Dynamic Perspective. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12248.

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Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.