Antigenic Cartography: Visualizing Viral Evolution for Influenza Vaccine Design

Location: Mission Hills Level: Novice

Mankind has been fighting influenza for thousands of years. The 1918
pandemic killed 50-100 million people. Today, influenza kills roughly half
a million people each year. Because the virus evolves, it is necessary for
vaccines to track its evolution closely in order to remain effective.

Antigenic Cartography is a new computational method that allows a unique
visualization of viral evolution. First published in 2004, the technique is
now used to aid the WHO in recommending the composition of human influenza vaccines. It is also being applied to the design of pandemic influenza vaccines and to the study of a variety of other infectious diseases.

The rise of Antigenic Cartography is a remarkable story of how recent
immunological theory, mathematics, and computer science have combined with decades of virological and medical research and diligent data collection to produce an entirely new tool with immediate practical impact.

This talk will give you food for thought regarding influenza, and move on to explain what Antigenic Cartography is, how it works, and exactly how it is used to aid vaccine strain selection—all in layman’s terms, with no need for a
biological or mathematical background.

Photo of Terry Jones

Terry Jones


Terry Jones is founder and CEO of Fluidinfo, a London and Barcelona based
company aiming to bring about a fundamental change in how people work with
information by building a distributed storage architecture for a new
representation of information. Before that he was a postdoc in Zoology at
the University of Cambridge (2004-07), part-time professor in computer
science at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona (2005-06), CTO of Eatoni
Ergonomics in New York (2000-04), a postdoc in the Cognitive Science
Department at UC San Diego (1998-99), CEO of Teclata in Barcelona
(1996-98), and a postdoc and graduate fellow at the Santa Fe Institute
(1992-96). He earned a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of New
Mexico with a dissertation on evolutionary computation, fitness landscapes
and search, an M.Math from the University of Waterloo, and a B.Sc. (hons)
in computer science from Sydney University.


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