Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
Over the past 20 years, scientists have sequenced the genomes of thousands of bacteria and viruses, including most human pathogens. These DNA sequences have led to a revolution in our understanding of infectious diseases, yet they are still not used in the clinic, where the vast majority of infections are never definitively diagnosed. Recent breakthroughs in DNA sequencing technology now make it possible to use metagenomic sequencing – in which we sequence a complex mixture of DNA without separating out the species within it – to diagnose infections directly from human biopsy samples. In this lecture, Dr. Steven L. Salzberg will describe how scientists and doctors are working together to diagnose infections in the brain and the eye, and how this technology has the potential to transform our approach to treating a wide range of infections.