THESE strangely beautiful works of art show the inner workings of a rather unsavoury subject - viruses, writes Emily Willis.

They are the work of Dr Briony Thomas of Leeds School of Design and are part of an exhibition on viruses as creative inspiration, on display at the University of York which this week is hosting an international conference on research in virology - the study of viruses in all their various forms.

World leaders in the fields of biology, biophysics, chemistry and maths are meeting for workshops to discuss challenges as well as developments in drugs and treatment.

Speakers will include Michael Brockhurst, researcher in viral evolution and a professor of biology at the University of York, Sarah Butcher, a biological scientist at the institute of biotechnology in Finland and William Gelbart, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCLA and Roya Zandi, professor of physics at the University of California.

Prof Reidun Twarock, from the University's of York's maths department, said: “Interdisciplinary exchange is key in tackling these problems and paves the way for the design of novel antiviral strategies."

The event, which will run until Friday (22nd August), at the at the Ron Cooke Hub on the Heslington East campus at the university. The event is funded by the engineering and physical sciences research council and has been organised by Prof Twarock in conjunction with Prof Peter Stockley of the University of Leeds. The event will be attended by students as well as leading researchers.

A poster competition will also be held.