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Lili Wang, Ph.D., has worked with viruses for 14 years and her latest focus is HIV. She’s studying the amazing mechanics of the virological synapses of HIV, which allow the virus to transfer from infected to uninfected cell. But for this podcast, her job is to help Richard with his virus project, providing in-depth, enlightening answers to his questions.

She discusses

  • The evolution and coevolution of infectious diseases,
  • The different entry mechanism of common infectious diseases and why such variety evolved, and
  • The role viruses have played in our evolution and how she thinks they have molded what we are.

Lili Wang, Ph.D. is a scientific researcher and instructor in the Department of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A member of the Benjamin Chen Laboratory, she’s made solid progress in HIV research and continues her work in infectious disease microbiology.

In this discussion, her virology background helps Richard grapple with his research questions with precise details of viral mechanics.

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She describes the coordinated manner with which viral cascades may work after cell entry and describes how evolution has continually refined these processes.

She provides substantive explanations for the trigger systems and how receptors work for these different forms of entry viruses take.

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Especially interesting is her description of the “not deliberate, but still not random” nature of viral actions, a key moment in this interview and why researchers grapple with how to categorize viruses in the alive/not alive debate. She adds information about how viruses might use sensing mechanisms and then pivots to more categories, comparing the actions and coevolution of bacteria and viruses and how plasmids and extracellular vesicles fit in this picture of microorganisms.

Finally, she gives an overview of the tight combined forces of our own microbiomes and viruses, bacteria, and phages, how the balance of these organisms keep us healthy and can be considered part of our very life: if they are disturbed or out of balance, we become ill. Listen in for more about how viruses work to make us who we are.

For more information about her work, see her lab page and search for her in research aggregate sites.

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