The Baldridge lab will explore the conditions that influence the evolution of severe strains of norovirus. Some individuals are able to rapidly clear norovirus infection, while others experience prolonged episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. Limiting the duration of infection is not only beneficial for the individual, but can potentially curb the outbreak of epidemics. That’s because sustained infection may allow the virus time to evolve into strains that can avoid immune detection. As a postdoctoral fellow, I discovered that the immune molecule interferon-lambda curtails norovirus infection in mice, while normal gut bacteria sustain it. Now, using methods in virology, immunology, molecular biology, and genomics, our lab will manipulate the interferon-lambda signaling pathway and the composition of the microbiota in norovirus-infected mice and determine how these modifications affect the elimination of the virus, the evolution of viral variants, and the infectiousness of newly evolved viral strains. These findings could lead to novel probiotic treatments for eliminating viral infections and to interventions that can prevent the emergence of more dangerous viral variants, a problem not only for norovirus but for other epidemic viruses such as influenza.