The Olsen Laboratory's studies of influenza focus on two main areas. The first is swine influenza virus surveillance and molecular epidemiology. Contemporary swine viruses from North America are genetically characterized so as to provide information on mechanisms of influenza virus evolution, assist in swine influenza vaccine strain selection, and as a potential early warning system for pandemic virus emergence. Specifically, this research involves virus isolation, virus characterization via sequencing and serologic assays, and phylogenetic and molecular epidemiological analysis of the isolates.
The second major research area in the Olsen Laboratory seeks to better understand the determinants of species-specificity of influenza viruses. Particularly, virus and cellular factors that control efficient infection of birds, pigs, or humans. Current projects include inter-species transfer of viruses from humans to pigs, from pigs to humans, from birds to pigs, and from pigs to birds (see Figure 3). One project focuses specifically on avian H4N6 viruses isolated from pigs in Canada. A second project more generally involves understanding infectivity of human and swine influenza viruses in primary swine respiratory epithelial cells.
For more details regarding Olsen Laboratory projects, see Publications.