Dr Reidun Lillestol is a Research Associate studying the molecular epidemiology of norovirus infection. The research is examining viral, host and environmental determinants that promote norovirus reservoirs and transmission in the hospital setting. Norovirus is often attributed to a relatively benign gastroenteritis, however it has been shown to cause severe complications in hospitalised patients, is an important cause of paediatric hospitalisation, and result in vast economic loss particularly in healthcare settings due to ward closures. Norovirus outbreaks continue to increase worldwide, however little is known how norovirus is maintained within populations.
Reidun’s research involves laboratory analysis and whole genome sequencing of norovirus isolated from participants, both patients and health care workers, who are diagnosed with or exhibit symptoms of norovirus and those in contact with probable norovirus cases but are asymptomatic. Sequences are processed and phylogenetic analysis is conducted to identify potential norovirus clusters, and to determine which viral factors contribute to prolonged and asymptomatic norovirus shedding. When investigating host factors, shedding characteristics are compared with medication use, host demographics, co-infection/co-morbidity and demographics. Findings from our analyses will be translated into recommendations for new methods and policies for prevention of norovirus outbreaks in healthcare settings.
Reidun has a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Copenhagen, where her thesis work included whole-genome sequencing and the investigation of CRISPRs in microorganisms. Since then she has worked in a core sequencing facility at the University of Cambridge, with next generation sequencing as a primary responsibility. This was followed by a postdoctoral position at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, where Reidun worked with site-directed mutagenesis of neurotransmitter-gated ion channels, 5-HT3s, and their molecular characterization and interaction with varenicline, a partial agonist and drug used to treat nicotine addiction.
Marongiu L, Shain E, Drumright L, Lillestøl RK, Somasunderam D, Curran MD. Analysis of TaqMan Array Cards Data by an Assumption-Free Improvement of the maxRatio Algorithm Is More Accurate than the Cycle-Threshold Method. PLoS One. 2016. Nov: 11(11). e0165282.
Price KL, Lillestøl RK, Ulens C, Lummis SC. Palonosetron-5-HT3 Receptor Interactions As Shown by a Binding Protein Cocrystal Structure. ACS. Chem. Neurosci. 2016. Sep.
Price KL, Lillestøl RK, Ulens C, Lummis SC. Varenicline interactions at the 5-HT3 receptor ligand binding site are revealed by 5HTBP. ACS. Chem. Neurosci. 2015 Jul: 15; 6(7): 1151-7.
Guo L, Brügger K, Liu C, Shah SA, Zheng H, Zhu Y, Wang S, Lillestøl RK, Chen L, Frank J, Prangishvili D, Paulin L, She Q, Huang L, Garrett RA. Genome analyses of Icelandic strains of Sulfolobus islandicus, model organisms for genetic and virus-host interaction studies. J. Bacteriol. 2011 Apr;193(7):1672-80.
Lillestøl RK, Shah SA, Brügger K, Redder P, Phan H, Christiansen J, Garret RA. CRISPR families of the crenarchaeal genus Sulfolobus: bidirectional transcription and dynamic properties. Mol. Microbiol. 2009 Apr;72(1) :259-72
Lillestøl RK, Redder P, Garrett RA, Brügger K. A putative viral defence mechanism in archaeal cells. Archaea. 2006 Aug;2 (1):59-72