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Viral Biology group

We are studying the interaction of RNA viruses with the host. RNA viruses are responsible for many important infections, causing tremendous global morbidity and mortality, and include many emerging pathogens. By investigating the host-pathogen interface, we hope to better understand basic aspects of virus biology and identify new ways of controlling viral infections. In addition, we aim to capitalize on the simplicity and unparalleled evolutionary capacity of RNA viruses to devise novel ways of interrogating basic cellular processes.

RNA viruses and cellular host factors

RNA viruses have to depend on the cellular machinery to carry out many essential functions in replication since they have very limited capacity to encode their own proteins. We are investigating which components of the cell are used by human RNA viruses, using both respiratory syncytial virus and members of the picornavirus family. Our goal is to better understand fundamental aspects of viral replication and find targets for antiviral therapy, while hopefully learning something about how cells work in the process. Our main focus at the moment is on the interaction of these viruses with cellular chaperones, key components of the cellular machinery that oversees protein folding and assembly.

Harnessing the evolutionary power of RNA viruses via experimental evolution

RNA viruses have the largest capacity for rapid evolution in nature. This is a big problem for vaccines and antiviral therapies. However, this property can also be harnessed as an invaluable research tool, helping us learn about both host and viral biology. We are setting up methods to employ viral experimental evolution to gain insights into viral biology, the design of viral proteins, and host-pathogen interactions.

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