#90 – Dmitry Korkin: Computational Biology of Coronavirus

Dmitry Korkin is a professor of bioinformatics and computational biology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he specializes in bioinformatics of complex disease, computational genomics, systems biology, and biomedical data analytics. I came across Dmitry’s work when in February his group used the viral genome of the COVID-19 to reconstruct the 3D structure of its major viral proteins and their interactions with human proteins, in effect creating a structural genomics map of the coronavirus and making this data open and available to researchers everywhere. We talked about the biology of COVID-19, SARS, and viruses in general, and how computational methods can help us understand their structure and function in order to develop antiviral drugs and vaccines.

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Dmitry’s Website: http://korkinlab.org/
Dmitry’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/dmkorkin
Dmitry’s Paper that we discuss: https://bit.ly/3eKghEM

This conversation is part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast. If you would like to get more information about this podcast go to https://lexfridman.com/ai or connect with @lexfridman on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Medium, or YouTube where you can watch the video versions of these conversations. If you enjoy the podcast, please rate it 5 stars on Apple Podcasts, follow on Spotify, or support it on Patreon.

Here’s the outline of the episode. On some podcast players you should be able to click the timestamp to jump to that time.

00:00 – Introduction
02:33 – Viruses are terrifying and fascinating
06:02 – How hard is it to engineer a virus?
10:48 – What makes a virus contagious?
29:52 – Figuring out the function of a protein
53:27 – Functional regions of viral proteins
1:19:09 – Biology of a coronavirus treatment
1:34:46 – Is a virus alive?
1:37:05 – Epidemiological modeling
1:55:27 – Russia
2:02:31 – Science bobbleheads
2:06:31 – Meaning of life