The Royal Society
Thu 2 May 2024
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Croonian Prize Lecture: A journey through the virosphere image

oyal Society Croonian Prize Lecture 2024 given by Professor Edward C. Holmes FRS.
Viruses are everywhere, yet we know remarkably little about them. In this lecture Professor Holmes will show how recent technological developments in ‘metagenomics’ have enabled scientists to glimpse the total universe of viruses – the virosphere – for the first time. This new research shows that viruses are far older, more diverse and more complex than we previously realised, and that their reputation for always causing disease is perhaps misplaced.
Professor Holmes will discuss the major drivers of virus evolution, the role played by viruses within global ecosystems and how major events in animal evolution, such as the origin of the vertebrates, have shaped the diversity and evolution of the viruses they carry. He will show how advances in artificial intelligence are enabling scientists to describe the outer edges of the virosphere. Finally, Professor Holmes will discuss how new genomic technologies provide a powerful way to rapidly reveal the animal origins of infectious disease epidemics and track their spread through our species, including COVID-19.