Meeting Summary: Our working group aims to explore the role of aging and adaptation in infectious diseases operating over multiple organizational and temporal scales. General areas include immune system dynamics and age, host-pathogen co-adaptation in chronic vs. acute infections, pathogen antigenic diversity and endemism, effects of age on infectious diseases in human and non-human hosts. Overarching themes include memory, (co)adaptation, diversity, feedback, robustness and fragility. We are interested in aging as increasing fragility to infection, and in complex biological time as related to individual variation in disease progression and recovery. We are also interested in aging of the pathogen in terms of its ability to persist and withstand intervention efforts, and how this robustness is in turn related to pathogen (antigenic) diversity. In all these areas, the dynamic acquisition and loss of information through the immune system plays a central role at the individual and population levels. The goal of this second working group is to bring together a subset of the participants from the first meeting to develop collaborative research on the questions that emerged from our previous discussions. These questions include the interaction of the adaptive and innate immune system in the dynamics of infection, the role of early-childhood exposure (‘imprinting’) in later immune protection and in defining the temporal changes of the antigenic map, and the allometric scaling of the immune system dynamics with organism size.
Support for this meeting has been generously provided by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, as part of the SFI Complex Time - Adaptation, Aging, Arrow of Time research theme.