Project Title

Quantifying the Timing of Post-Infection HIV Viral Release


Jolene Johnson

Name of Award

3m Student-Faculty Collaborative Grants

Date Awarded



Mathematics and Physics

Project Description

Jolene Johnson-Armstrong, PhD, Assistant Prof of Physics, was awarded $27,520.00 for Quantifying the Timing of Post-Infection HIV Viral Release. Many interesting scientific problems can only be addressed at the intersection between scientific disciplines. Biophysics is a field that is emerging to address problems that occur at the interface between biology and physics. This research we will combine physics, biology, chemistry, and engineering to quantify the timing of HIV-1 viral release. HIV-1 is a well-studied retrovirus that has infected millions of people worldwide. It reproduces by taking over the nucleic acid and protein making machinery of its host cell. New virons are assembled and released at the cell membrane. Upon release, it gains a lipid coat from its host cell. These new viruses then circulate in the blood and infect new cells where the process begins again. Traditionally, biochemical techniques have been used to study the entire lifecycle of this virus. These experiments have provided insight into the average behavior of the virus as it infects many different host cells. Recent advances in biophysical techniques have allowed the development of more quantitative methods for studying the viral lifecycle. This study combined microfluidics and fluorescence imaging to develop a more quantitative understanding of when viral release occurs and how this release varies within a population of cells. The techniques were developed could illuminate proteins and genes responsible for variation in the clinical onset of full blown AIDS. Additionally, the techniques could be used to study a range of other viruses and cellular vesicles.

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