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York academic secures Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship

Posted on 8 August 2014

A University of York academic has received a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust fellowship to further her research on novel mathematics for anti-viral therapy and evolution.

Professor Reidun Twarock, from York's Departments of Biology and Mathematics and the York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis, is one of seven new Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship holders appointed by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science.

Professor Twarock's research focuses on the development of mathematical and computational tools to model fundamental processes in virology. Her work in collaboration with Professor Peter Stockley, from the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology at the University of Leeds, has contributed to a fundamental change in our understanding of how viruses form, and how they package their genetic material into their protein containers.

Their research has revealed that viral genomes play important roles in the formation of (single-stranded) RNA viruses, a major class of viruses containing many important human pathogens. In addition, through models of virus assembly they have demonstrated how these viral genomes enhance virus assembly efficiency. This discovery opens up the possibility of a novel anti-viral therapy and of a new understanding of viral evolution.

Funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the fellowship scheme is designed for scientists who would benefit from a period of full-time research without teaching and administrative duties. The scheme reimburses the employing institution with the full salary cost of a teaching replacement.  Fellowships cover all areas of the life and physical sciences, including engineering, but excluding clinical medicine.

Professor Twarock said: "I am very pleased to receive the fellowship which provides a unique opportunity to capitalise on our research and discoveries. Our work will aid the development of new anti-viral strategies against viruses for which treatment options are currently limited, and allow us to gain novel insights into their evolution."

Notes to editors:

  • The Leverhulme Trust was established in 1925 under the Will of the First Viscount Leverhulme with the instruction that its resources should be used to support “scholarships for the purposes of research and education.” More information is available from
  • The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

The Society’s strategic priorities emphasise its commitment to the highest quality science, to curiosity-driven research, and to the development and use of science for the benefit of society. These priorities are:

  1. Promoting science and its benefits
  2. Recognising excellence in science
  3. Supporting outstanding science
  4. Providing scientific advice for policy
  5. Fostering international and global cooperation
  6. Education and public engagement

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