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Centre de recherche
Friday, September 16 2022
Press release

Computational approach, a major ally to better understand influenza

The CHU Sainte-Justine collaborates in a study funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

A team led by Morgan Craig, a researcher at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, is taking part in a major influenza study funded* by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, to the tune of $2.84 million. Led by Amber M. Smith, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), the study aims to develop a new computational approach to better understand influenza.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that respiratory infections can be different if we compare one individual to another. The same is true for influenza, which can range from asymptomatic to deadly. How a patient copes depends on a variety of factors, including geography and genetics. Underlying health conditions can also play a role in infection trajectories and influence immune responses, outcomes, and much more.

With this study, the team will develop and use a new computational approach to simulate individual influenza patients under a variety of conditions. They will then tap into these simulations to analyze different patient responses to infection and treatment, to test analytical predictions of infection risk, and to define biomarkers that predict infection severity.

According to Morgan Craig, also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Université de Montréal, the assigned CHU Sainte-Justine principal investigator: mathematical modelling has long been used to understand diseases. As an example, decisions public health authorities make during pandemics like COVID-19 rely heavily on statistical data and mathematical models to track the course of infections. But mathematical and computer modelling can also help generate insight into how the virus works in the body.

”We are very proud to be part of this study about influenza, which is a global health priority. Our work combining mathematical and computational models will provide us with the ability to construct virtual populations and better understand the dynamics of flu infections and what regulates them. This will help us decipher how individual characteristics affect disease severity and predict the interactions between the virus, lung tissue and the immune system ”,said the researcher.

Morgan Craig’s Quantitative and Translational Medicine Laboratory at CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre and Université de Montréal focuses on understanding how heterogeneity in patient-specific characteristics impacts on disease and treatment outcomes. Her team builds computational biology models that leverage variability for treatment optimization and precision medicine. The Laboratory's research is multidisciplinary and is conducted in close collaboration with experimentalists and clinicians.

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The CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre is a leading mother-child research institution affiliated with the Université de Montréal. It brings together more than 210 research investigators, including over 110 clinician-scientists, as well as 450 graduate and postgraduate students focused on finding innovative prevention means, faster and less invasive treatments, as well as personalized approaches to medicine. The centre is an integral part of CHU Sainte-Justine, which is the largest mother-child centre in Canada.

CHU Sainte-Justine

Justine Mondoux-Turcotte
Advisor - Media Relations and External Relations
CHU Sainte-Justine

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Updated on 9/28/2022
Created on 9/16/2022
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