MRB, Route 1019
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
|PhD | 2005 | Institute for Animal Health; Pirbright Laboratory & University of Surrey; Surrey, United Kingdom|
|BSc | 2001 | University of Edinburgh; Edinburgh, United Kingdom|
Comparative molecular pathogenesis of emerging virus infections.
A number of significant human diseases are caused by so-called ‘emerging’ viruses. Changes in human movements and growth, international travel and commerce, and animal and insect ecology mean that viruses which rarely encountered humans, or were restricted to a particular geographic region, can emerge to threaten new populations. The rapid spread of West Nile virus across North America illustrates this point.
For many of these diseases, medical treatment is limited to supportive care as drugs are not available. Research in my laboratory aims to understand the molecular basis of pathogenesis in order to identify targets for new antiviral compounds or find novel uses for drugs currently used in the treatment of other diseases.
Our work is currently focused on two groups of viruses: the hemorrhagic fever-causing arenaviruses Lassa virus and Junin virus, and encephalitic arboviruses such as West Nile virus. Using high-throughput ‘omics’ approaches, and specific pathway-focused investigations, we are beginning to delineate the molecular differences between disease-causing virulent viruses, and similar viruses which are asymptomatic or cause only a mild disease. Novel systems biology and mathematical tools are being used to analyze these results.
By comparing the cellular responses to these viruses, we hope to understand which mechanisms are important to successfully clear infection, and which lead to severe disease. Elucidation of these pathways will allow us to rationally target these cellular responses as an antiviral strategy.
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