Cells form the basis of all living cells. Whether is a bacterium, a fungus, a blue whale, or a large sequoia tree – all organisms are made up of at least one cell. Their components regulate all aspects of life as we know it and the most basic categorization of organisms relies on different cell types. Within a multicellular organism, cellular diversity provides specialization for different tasks and together they orchestrate overall organismal function and survival.
On the other hand, viruses are small subcellular agents that are unable to multiply outside a host cell and are thus obligate parasites. They can essentially infect all forms of life and have shaped several aspects of natural selection throughout evolution. Due to their extreme dependence for cellular factors to replicate, targeting viral infections through highly-selective antiviral agents has proven to be challenging.
As a scientist, I study the interactions between viruses and the cells they infect. I believe that understanding how these intracellular parasites re-purpose host cell factors for their benefit can similarly teach us about principles of cell biology that would have been almost impossible to study otherwise.
I am also a science communicator on social media (@NakedCapsid on Twitter) where I use microscopy to teach complex biological systems to the public. I am also the leader of the #UniqueScientists movement with the goal of showcasing the diversity within scientific research and the many faces that day after day contribute to new scientific discoveries.