Genome Architecture and Evolution of RNA Viruses
RNA viruses are a major threat to human health and responsible for millions of deaths each year. Their replication is orchestrated by the RNA genome, which encodes for viral proteins needed to hijack the host cell. Traditionally, infectious disease research has focused on blocking viral replication by inhibiting these proteins. However, we now appreciate that the genomes of RNA viruses are not just passive carriers of protein coding information, but active participants in the viral infection process through the action of non-coding RNA. We study the structure and function of viral non-coding RNA, with the goal of harnessing the resulting knowledge in the design of next generation RNA-based therapies. This group is located at the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI).
Redmond Smyth carried out his undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge (UK), specializing in Virology and Immunology. He then moved to the Burnet Institute, Melbourne (Australia) for his PhD, where he investigated the mechanisms of HIV-1 genetic diversity in its natural target cells. His PhD research pointed to the importance of RNA structure in regulating viral infection processes, which is why he then moved to Strasbourg (France) for his post-doctoral research to train as an RNA biochemist. Here, he worked on understanding the mechanisms leading to the incorporation of the HIV-1 genomic RNA into viral particles. In 2015 he was recruited to the CNRS as a chargé de recherche (CR2), and in 2018, with support from the Helmholtz Association, he started his own research group at the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI).
A current overview of the team and further information about the research group can be found on the HIRI page.