IMA Gold Medal Lecture 2019

9:00am, Fri 1st November 2019

The Royal Society, London SW1Y 5AG

IMA Gold Medal Lecture 2019 – Geometry as a weapon in the fight against viral disease to be given by Professor Reidun Twarock (University of York), winner of the 2018 IMA Gold Medal.

Through an unexpected collaboration, Professor Reidun Twarock has been able to visualise how viruses work by using the MVR technology created by DC Labs' William Latham and Lance Putnam.  We are delighted that she is able to use this technology to visually demonstrate her findings at her Institute of Mathematics Gold Medal Lecture this Wednesday.


The protein containers encapsulating the genetic material of viruses are remarkable examples of icosahedral symmetry in biology. Professor Twarock will demonstrate how techniques from group, graph and tiling theory have enabled her and her team to solve long-standing puzzles regarding the structures and assembly of these viral Trojan horses. In particular, the concept of Hamiltonian paths has been instrumental in the discovery of an assembly mechanism that occurs in many viral families, such as the Picornaviruses that include the common cold virus. Using Gillespie models of viral evolution in the context of a viral infection, Professor Twarock will demonstrate how these insights into virus structure open up novel opportunities for anti-viral therapy. She will also show how her recent classification of virus structure based on Kepler’s Archimedean lattices has revealed a design principle for icosahedral architectures, that solves open problems in structural virology and suggests new avenues in our fight against viral disease.

There will be an opportunity after the lecture to experience the models of viral geometry ‘in action’ in a virtual reality environment.