We study the genetic diversity of the virosphere at different scales because we are interested in better understanding the diversity of viruses both across eukaryotes and within the human virome. By utilizing a high-performance computing-based virus discovery approach developed by us, we screen sequencing data for the presence of known and unknown viral sequences, including highly divergent viruses with no close relatives in reference databases. We apply this approach to very large amounts of published sequencing data and to unpublished data from patient cohorts in order to explore inter-individual differences in virome composition between diseased and healthy persons.
Furthermore, we seek to extend our virus discovery approach to animal viruses, aiming to identify primate and other vertebrate species harboring unknown relatives of human pathogenic viruses, which may form the basis for establishing new animal infection models.
In addition to that, we are involved in project A1 where we study genetic determinants of severe infection with the human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants.