Chasing the Holy Grail: Consilience in Disease Ecology

Thu, Feb 10, 2022, 12:30 pm

Consilience is a ‘jumping together’ of knowledge by the linking of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of explanation. In this talk I propose that consilience in disease ecology can arise by merging insights from disciplines that investigate infectious disease processes at vastly different organizational scales. I illustrate this idea by presenting studies on the biology of three foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) strains in their natural reservoir host, the African buffalo. I bring together findings from virology, which describes host-pathogen interactions at the cellular scale, with epidemiology, which investigates viral transmission in host populations. A mechanistic model of within-host viral and immune dynamics allows these disparate components to “jump together”. The model identifies viral growth rate and adaptive immune activation rate as key parameters governing viral kinetics and fitness within hosts. They also predict epidemiological parameters estimated separately in a model of FMDV transmission in buffalo herds. These findings suggest that it may be possible to predict the capacity of viral strains to spread and persist in host populations by watching – and modeling – the race of virus against immune response within individual hosts. However – a broader range of viral strains will need to be evaluated to test the generality of these preliminary findings. The grail is wont to recede upon pursuit. 

Location: 
Virtual/Guyot 10
Audience: 
Open to public
Speaker(s): 
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