Maria Anastasina's dissertation reminds us never to underestimate the capabilities of viruses to control their host cells
Influenza A virus is an important pathogen that infects humans worldwide and is a constant problem for healthcare and economics. Since viruses are structurally rather simple organisms they have evolved various strategies to interact with the host cell and utilize cell’s own resources for replicating themselves. Understanding these virus-host interactions in detail is essential for developing better ways to fight against pathogenic viruses.

The main aim of Maria Anastasina’s thesis, to be publicly examined tomorrow, 17 April, was to learn more about the role of the non-structural protein NS1 of influenza A virus. This protein is a key regulator of influenza A viral interactions with the host cell.

M.Sc. Maria Anastasina has done her thesis work at FIMM in the Medical Systems Virology group led by Dr. Denis Kainov. She will defend her doctoral dissertation in the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences. Her dissertation, entitled “Influenza A virus-host interactions and their control by viral non-structural protein NS1”, was supervised by Docent Denis Kainov, Ph.D., and Professor Sarah Butcher.

Maria graduated from the University of Saint Petersburg in 2008 having genetics as her major subject. She had always been interested in viruses as well as interdisciplinary projects. Dr. Denis Kainov started at FIMM among the first FIMM-EMBL Group Leaders and Maria decided to join his group in 2010.

Maria’s thesis consists of four publications, the topics of which nicely range from basic science to method development. She was able to describe several new functions of NS1 in regulation of virus host interactions.

-Although the influenza A NS1 protein has been extensively studied over the past few decades the understanding is still far from complete, Maria explains.

-I would like to thank the whole FIMM staff for creating this great atmosphere, HR and administrative people and especially Gretchen for their help in many practical matters, Maria continues.

Maria’s future plans are already settled. She has a deep interest towards Academia-Industry partnerships and this is exactly what her endeavor within the FP7 AIROPico project dedicated to Picornaviruses is all about.

The public examination of Maria Anastasina’s thesis will take place on 17 April 2015 at 12:00 in the lecture hall 2402 of Biocenter 3, Viikinkaari 1. Professor Stephan Ludwig (University of Muenster, Germany) will serve as the opponent, and Professor Dennis Bamford as the custos.

The dissertation is also available in electronic form and can be downloaded here.