Recipient of an International Research Travel Award (IRTA) from WSU for 2016 - 2017
Dr. Elissa Schwartz is one of seven WSU faculty to receive a Fourth Annual International Research Travel Award (IRTA) from WSU for 2016 - 2017. As an interdisciplinary scientist working at the interface of mathematics and biology, Dr. Elissa Schwartz combines mathematical models with experimental data in novel ways to elucidate biological mechanisms in virology, immunology, and infectious disease epidemiology. She aims to understand virus escape from inhibition and control using an integrated experimental and mathematical modeling approach.
Dr. Schwartz is currently on professional leave as a visiting research fellow at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in South Africa. AIMS is a vibrant international research center for the mathematical sciences. She is meeting with local researchers, including mathematicians and clinical infectious disease specialists, to begin new collaborations modeling the disease dynamics of HIV infection. HIV/AIDS disproportionally affects individuals in South Africa.
Previously, Dr. Schwartz travelled to India to collaborate with colleague Dr. Seema Nanda. Drs. Schwartz and Nanda pioneered the calculation of quantitative kinetic estimates of antibody blocking rates in virus infection, which may aid in developing antibody-eliciting vaccine strategies. The next step in their research involves developing advanced mathematical models based upon experimental results on virus inhibition. This work may have important implications for understanding virus evolution as well as vaccine development.