Evolutionary biologist Bloom joins Center

Basic Sciences and Public Health Sciences divisions’ Jesse Bloom brings protein evolution, computational expertise to stimulate broad cross-disciplinary research
Dr. Jesse Bloom
Dr. Jesse Bloom's research focuses on various aspects of the molecular evolution of proteins and viruses, particularly influenza. Photo by Bo Jungmayer

Dr. Jesse Bloom has joined the Hutchinson Center faculty, with a dual appointment in the Basic Sciences Division and the Public Health Sciences Division’s Herbold Computational Biology Program.

Bloom’s research focuses on various aspects of the molecular evolution of proteins and viruses, particularly influenza. He uses influenza sequence histories to dissect evolutionary pathways, with a goal of applying the resulting insights towards predicting future viral evolution. He is also interested in understanding how protein biophysics constrain and enable evolutionary trajectories.

New lab will focus on virus evolution

He will be starting a new Basic Sciences research lab. “We have a very extensive history about how the influenza virus evolved over the last century,” Bloom said. “My group will be doing work that connects the patterns we see in this evolutionary history to the underlying biology of the virus and immune system of the host.”

Bloom performed his postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology, where he received his doctoral degree in chemistry and studied the engineering of proteins by the technique of directed evolution.

“We're thrilled that Jesse has joined the Center,” said Dr. Jonathan Cooper, Basic Sciences director. “He has wide interests in protein evolution—from theory to experiment. He'll fit in well with our investigators studying the fundamentals of evolution and protein structure and their implications for human disease.

“His focus on virus evolution ensures interactions with virologists in the Human Biology and Vaccine and Infectious Disease divisions, and his computational expertise has landed him a joint appointment in the computational biology program. He should stimulate cross-disciplinary research in many areas,” Cooper said.

Bloom, who is enthusiastic about moving to Seattle, said he was very impressed with the interactive and friendly environment at the Center. “People really seemed to know each other and share ideas. I like how the Basic Sciences Division is structured, and was amazed to see how many faculty are doing hands-on research,” he said.

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