Viruses are a pretty big deal: they’re the most abundant biological entity on Earth. Viruses are ruthlessly persistent and they cause a wide variety of diseases, ranging from simple colds to hemorrhagic fevers and lifelong infections.

Scientists who study viruses are called virologists, and about 1,600 of them will take over the University of Minnesota East Bank campus in July for the 38th Annual American Society for Virology Meeting (ASV).

ASV was founded in 1981 as an international meeting for investigators of viruses that affect all life on the planet, and it travels to a different campus in North America each year. The research it spotlights uses clinical, ecological, biological, and biochemical approaches.

“ASV has a long history of promoting discussion and collaboration among scientists active in all aspects of virology,” says Reuben Harris, a biochemistry professor in the College of Biological Sciences and the lead coordinator of the event.

Graduate students, undergrads, and postdoctoral students from around the world will attend and present discussions, lectures, and workshops. “It’s an opportunity for them to learn more about what it means to be a researcher and for faculty here to promote the U of M and attract the brightest in the field,” says Harris.

“There will be hundreds of activities, including poster presentations, symposia, and social events happening from 8 o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night in multiple venues across campus,” says Rhonda Layer, program director for the College of Continuing and Professional Studies, which is facilitating the event logistics. “It’s an important event and we’re proud to support it.”

“Virology is relevant to every person on the planet,” says Harris. “As viruses continue to evolve, virologists will have to come up with more clever ways to keep them in check.”

The 38th Annual American Society for Virology Meeting takes place July 20−24, 2019.