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Rev your engines- ERV has arrived!

ScienceBlogs is proud to announce the newest member of our blogging community: ERV is the pseudonym of Abbie Smith, an Oklahoma-based graduate student who was bound for medical school until a summer internship turned her on to the research track. She now studies HIV and its evolution from a molecular and biochemical perspective. She also studies…wait for it…ERVs!

What does ERV stand for? We’ll give you a clue- it’s not emergency response vehicle, English revised version, or expiratory reserve volume (get your mind out of the gutter).

ERV, in this case, stands for endogenous retrovirus, a relatively mysterious class of RNA viruses which infect germline cells and insert a DNA-intermediate copy of themselves into the host genome. Though they usually lose their ability to infect shortly after integration due to DNA recombination, pieces of the viral DNA can remain cluttering up the host genome for millions of years.

Okay, so we’re glad someone is studying that, then.

ERV the blog is now up and running. In addition to posts about HIV and viral evolution, you can also see some cute pics of Abbie’s dog, like the one below: