Webinar: Understanding and harnessing the immune system for better vaccines: a crossroad of physics and biology

November 18th, 2020 at 18:00
Speaker: Arup Chakraborty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Moderator: Mehran Kardar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract: Infectious disease-causing viruses have plagued humanity since antiquity. Vaccination has often protected against these threats, and saved more lives than any other medical procedure. Indeed, the best hope for ending the COVID-19 pandemic is an effective vaccine. I will comment on natural immune responses to COVID-19, and current vaccine development efforts. But, what if SARS-CoV-2 was a highly mutable virus? Efforts to develop effective vaccines against such pathogens have not been successful. HIV is a prominent example. We do not have a universal vaccine that can protect us from diverse strains of influenza either. I will describe how bringing together theory/computation (rooted in statistical physics) with basic and clinical immunology can help address such challenges. Using such an approach, we translated data on HIV protein sequences to knowledge of the HIV fitness landscape – i.e., how the virus’ ability to propagate infection depends on its sequence. Predictions emerging from the fitness landscape were then tested against in vitro and clinical data. I will discuss how a potentially potent T cell-based vaccine was designed based on these findings and tested positively in Macaques. I will then describe work aimed toward eliciting antibodies, the other arm of the immune system, that can protect against diverse strains of highly mutable pathogens. This is a problem at the intersection of statistical physics, immunology, and learning theory.

Registration link.

RC Advance: Challenges of the Science of Advanced Diagnostics and Therapy

You are invited to a free online lecture and workshop entitled RC Advance: Challenges of the Science of Advanced Diagnostics and Therapy, organized by the Slovenian Innovation Hub, SRIP Health – Medicine.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 1pm to 5pm, in English.


Reflections on the Slovenian Center for Proton Therapy stimulated the idea of setting up a research center for the exchange of ideas and planning research in the field of advanced diagnostics and cancer therapy. Within the framework of this initiative, we want to connect various scientific disciplines and knowledge in Slovenia and beyond.


Among the lecturers, we are pleased to announce two important guests, top experts in the field of medical physics, prof. dr. Rock Mackie of the University of Wisconsin, Madison USA, who will speak on Operative Oncology and prof. dr. Thomas Bortfeld of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston USA, who will lecture on Advances in Medicine in Cancer Treatment in Hospitals and Research Centers.

The workshop will also be attended by Slovenian experts, who represent the widest range of expertise related to the development of proton therapy in Slovenia.

The registration form and program are at this link.

You are cordially invited!

Slovenian American Virtual Academic Symposium

The Slovenian American Virtual Academic Symposium will be held 16.11.2020 at 5-8 PM CET / 11 AM – 2 PM EST / 8 – 11 AM PST on Zoom, and you can join by clicking on the link below:

During the last hour of the symposium you will be able to join one of the following breakout rooms:
Education, Exchange Programs, Summer Schools
Arts, Design, Music
Business, Economics, Law
Computer Science
Health, Medicine, Pharmaceutics
Humanities and Social Sciences
Natural Sciences
Physics, Engineering, Materials Science

We would like to encourage you to upgrade the Zoom to version 5.4. This will enable you to choose the breakout room yourself and you will also be able to switch between breakout rooms.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@asef.net if you have any questions.

We are looking forward to meeting you at the symposium!

International Journal Club #22

On Wednesday, November 11 2020, Maruša Turk will present a paper entitled  Association Between New Unconfirmed Bone Lesions and Outcomes in Men With Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer Treated With Enzalutamide: Secondary Analysis of the PREVAIL and AFFIRM Randomized Clinical Trials.



We start at 3 PM Ljubljana / 8 AM Madison via ZOOM.



Cordially invited