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For close to 30 years, Dr. Frank Ryan has investigated theoretical evolutionary biology. In this conversation he discusses the genomic creativity of virus-host coevolution.

Listeners will hear Dr. Ryan recount

  • findings that prompted our current concepof symbiont viruses, including hantavirus –rodent research,
  • how AIDs and the coronavirus  evolve alongside human survival rates and what that implies about immunity, and
  • how animals have adapted some of the abilities of viruses down to how the placental membrane protects itself from the maternal immune system.


Author Dr. Frank Ryan is Honorary Senior Lecturer of the Department of Medical Education at the University of Sheffield, UK, and an emeritus consulting physician with the affiliated Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. He’s also a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of England and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and the Linnaean Society of London. 

He recounts incidences of genomic creativity from his research into symbiont viruses and host coevolution. Early in his academic career, he studied bacteria phages in rabbits, and thus began a lifelong interest. He discusses relevant findings such as the mechanics of the coronavirus and its use of the host’s ribosomes to replicate itself.

As he discusses the behavior of symbiont viruses, he explains how a virus like AIDS uses a selective pressure on its hosts through survival rates. He explains that if there were no medical involvement, Aids would have changed the human genome to benefit itself. 

Finally, he talks about such controversial issues as the consideration of viruses as living vs. nonliving and explains what the ocean would like without viruses to keep the bacterial population in check.

For more information, see some of Dr. Ryan’s books including Virolution and his most recent book, Virusphere.

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