UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The immunology and epidemiology of viral infections in humans Liu, Aaron


Viral infectious disease is of vast global importance, specifically human herpesviruses and coronaviruses, which have implications in human health and disease, along with the risk of emergence as a pandemic. Understanding the relationship between viral pathogenesis and immune responses can help unravel the complex immunopathology that results from infection by these viral pathogens and their contribution to morbidity and mortality in different age groups. Human herpesviruses have been associated with development of several diseases in adulthood and old age, including autoimmune disease, neurodegenerative disease, and malignancies. Much less is known about previous exposures to coronaviruses and their role in the development of COVID-19 immunopathology during SARS-CoV-2 infection. My research findings have identified that healthy adults and neonates share remarkedly similar populations of immune cells. Furthermore, while there are subtle differences in the expression of different immune related genes, their response to stimulus results in very comparable gene expression signatures. In addition, there was also no discernible difference between the detection of human herpesviruses between the brains of healthy donors and those with Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, this research also noted that previous infection with coronavirus is ubiquitous and initial infection typically occurs during childhood in the population. By researching the complex relationship between immunity and viral response, it is evident that while viruses like herpesvirus can be associated with the development of disease like Alzheimer’s disease, determining causality is challenging. Conversely, coronavirus, a forgotten pathogen during respiratory virus testing, is found to be quite a common infection throughout the population. Viral infectious disease is a globally important subject of health research that requires linking the biology of the pathogen to the pathology of disease and the contribution of the immune system to disease outcome. My research reflects the complexity of studying immune ontogeny, attributing early life viral exposure to disease development, and understanding the role of past viral exposure’s influence on immunopathology in related viruses.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International