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Stephen Dewhurst, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Office: (585) 275-3216

Fax: (585) 473-2361

Research Labs


Dr. Dewhurst is Vice Dean for Research at the School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD), and Associate Vice President for Health Sciences Research at the University of Rochester (UR). He has over 25 years experience as a molecular virologist, working mainly on HIV/AIDS - with an emphasis in recent years on vaccine development. He serves as Director of the UR's NIH-funded Development Center for AIDS Research, in addition to his own research. Dr. Dewhurst is internationally recognized for his expertise, and is also a former NIH Study Section Chair and a former member of the NIH Recombinant Advisory Committee (RAC). Finally, he has been recognized for his mentoring and training achievements through several awards from the UR.

Professional Background

Dr. Dewhurst is Dean's Professor and Chair of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (URSMD). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1987, and then undertook postdoctoral training at Columbia University and at the Harvard School of Public Health. His doctoral and postdoctoral work focused on HIV/AIDS research. He joined the faculty of UR in 1990 and served as Senior Associate Dean for Basic Research at the URSMD from 2007 to 2009. He was appointed as Chair of Microbiology & Immunology in 2009, and Vice Dean for Research at the URSMD in 2013.

Dr. Dewhurst has over 25 years experience as a molecular virologist, working on both DNA and RNA viruses, including HIV and influenza viruses. He has served on many NIH special emphasis and regular grant review panels and is a current member of the NeuroAIDS and other End-organ Diseases Study Section [NAED] study section; he has previously served as a Study Section Chair as well as a past (2004-2008) member of the NIH Recombinant Advisory Committee (RAC), which oversees all recombinant DNA studies in human subjects.

Dr. Dewhurst's educational and training roles include serving as the co-director (with Tracey Baas and Sarah Peyré) of the UR's NIH-funded BEST program (URBEST) - which seeks to broaden scientific training opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at the university. He is also the PI of a NIH predoctoral T32 training program in the Pathogenesis of Bacteria and Viruses, and the co-director (and contact PI) of the Rochester Partnership for Research and Academic Career Training of Deaf Postdoctoral Scholars, a unique, transformative mentored postdoctoral research training in biomedical and behavioral sciences for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (D/HH) Scholars. This program combines research training at the UR with an opportunity to develop critical academic skills, including teaching, at our partner institution, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and its National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID); it is the only program of its kind in the nation.

Finally, Dr. Dewhurst co-directs the UR's Burroughs Wellcome Foundation predoctoral training program (with Dr. Nancy Bennett), entitledInfection and Immunity: From Molecules to Populations, and was the founding director of the UR's Post-Baccalaureate Research and Education Program (PREP), which provides research training for under-represented minority students. He received the UR's Graduate Student Society Faculty Teaching Award in 1996, the Graduate Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Education in 2001, the William H. Riker University Award for Graduate Teaching in 2008 (the UR's highest award for education and mentoring) and the outstanding T32 Program Director award in 2015.


Current research interests in our laboratory include the following: HIV VACCINE AND MICROBICIDE DEVELOPMENT: An effective HIV vaccine must elicit protective immune responses at mucosal sites of virus transmission. It is thought that mucosal delivery of vaccines may hold the key to this. We are therefore exploring whether this problem can be solved by delivering nanoparticle-based vaccines by a mucosal route, under the tongue. This "sublingual" route of delivery has been safely used to deliver medicines such as nitroglycerin for decades, but has been little studied in the setting of vaccine administration. Improving the mucosal immune response is only part of the battle, in terms of developing a successful HIV vaccine. Also needed are improved immunogens, capable of evoking virus neutralizing antibodies that recognize diverse virus strains. However, antibodies of this kind have proven hard to generate, in part because the virus structures that they recognize are normally hidden from the immune system. We are therefore also working to develop improved vaccine immunogens, by producing novel "antigenic mimics" of key structures present on the surface of the virus. Finally, we are also exploring new approaches to microbicide development, by targeting amyloid structures in semen, known as SEVI. SEVI enhances infection by allowing HIV particles to stick more efficiently to the immune cells that the virus infects. We are presently examining the normal function of SEVI, which presumably did not evolve to enhance HIV infection! We are also developing novel developing compounds that prevent SEVI from interacting with the virus – thereby reducing the efficiency of HIV infection. This strategy is different from most other antiviral approaches, because it targets an invariant host factor – making it very unlikely that the virus could ever become resistant to SEVI inhibitors. NEUROAIDS RESEARCH: NOVEL THERAPEUTICS and STUDIES OF CEREBRAL BLOOD FLOW: HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND) continue to affect more than 50% of persons living with HIV, despite the widespread use of effective antiviral drugs. This suggests that chronic, virally-initiated, neuroinflammation may persist over time – leading to neuronal dysfunction and damage. In collaboration with Handy Gelbard, we are therefore working to develop new therapies for HAND, by targeting mixed lineage kinase (MLK)-3, an upstream kinase involved in the regulation of neuroinflammation and cell fate. In separate studies, we are also examining the mechanisms by which HIV infection leads to inhibition of cerebral blood flow (CBF). These experiments include an analysis of how virally-encoded neurotoxins may interact with drugs of abuse (such as methamphetamine) to exacerbate CNS disease and neuroinflammation. ROLE OF CELLULAR FACTORS IN INFLUENZA VIRUS PATHOGENESIS AND HOST ADAPTATION: The influenza A virus (IAV) RNA polymerase complex is known to play an important role in viral pathogenesis and host adaptation, but the underlying reasons for this remain unclear. In collaboration with the Katze laboratory at the University of Washington, our group recently completed an extensive proteomic analysis of host cell factors that interact with the IAV RNA polymerase. This resulted in the identification of a large number of mitochondrial proteins, and other cellular proteins that were previously not recognized to play a role in influenza virus infection. Current studies in our laboratory are examining how these proteins influence virus replication, and pathogenesis, as well as the activity of the viral RNA polymerase.


Faculty Appointments


BS | Bristol University, UK

PhD | University of Nebraska
Molecular Biology


William H. Riker Award for Graduate Education
Sponsor: University of Rochester

2004 - Present
Member, NIH Recombinant Advisory Committee (RAC)

2003 - 2004
Chair, NIH/NIAID AIDSRRC Charter Study Section

University Dean's Award for Meritorious Service in Ph.D. Defenses
Sponsor: University of Rochester

2002 - Present
Dean's Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
Sponsor: University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry

Graduate Alumni Award for Excellence in Graduate Education
Sponsor: University of Rochester

Graduate Student Soceity (GSS) Faculty Teaching Award
Sponsor: University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry

Friend of Education Award
Sponsor: Rochester City School District

1994 - 1999
Research Career Development Award, NIH

1988 - 1991
AIDS Research Scholar
Sponsor: AmFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research)

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Title: Attenuated Influenza Vaccines and Uses Thereof
U.S. Serial #: 14/695,544
Filed: Apr 24, 2015
Invented By: AndrewCox, StephenDewhurst, BaekKim, JohnTreanor

Title: Method for Increasing the Attenuation and Safety of a Live-attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV)
U.S. Serial #: 14/905,320
Filed: Jul 18, 2014
Invented By: AndrewCox, StephenDewhurst, BaekKim, JohnTreanor

Title: MIxed Lineage Kinase Inhibitors for HIV/AIDS Therapies
U.S. Serial #: 14/648,404
Filed: Nov 30, 2013
Invented By: StephenDewhurst, HarrisGelbard, HowardGendelman

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Journal Articles

Blanchard C, Brooks L, Beckley A, Colquhoun J, Dewhurst S, Dunman PM. "Neomycin Sulfate Improves the Antimicrobial Activity of Mupirocin-Based Antibacterial Ointments." Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy.. 2016 Feb 0; 60(2):862-72. Epub 2015 Nov 23.

Nishimura C, Polesskaya O, Dewhurst S, Silva JN. "Quantification of Cerebral Vascular Architecture using Two-photon Microscopy in a Mouse Model of HIV-induced Neuroinflammation." Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE.. 2016 Jan 12; (107):e53582. Epub 2016 Jan 12.

Cox A, Dewhurst S. "A Single Mutation at PB1 Residue 319 Dramatically Increases the Safety of PR8 Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine in a Murine Model without Compromising Vaccine Efficacy." Journal of virology.. 2015 Dec 16; 90(5):2702-5. Epub 2015 Dec 16.

Books & Chapters

Chapter Title: Various reprinted forms, including Biosafety guidelines and policies
Book Title: Medical Laboratory Management: Forms, Checklists and Guidelines
Author List: Dewhurst, S.
Published By: Aspen Publishers2003 in Gaithersburg, MD

Chapter Title: Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) from old world monkeys
Book Title: The Human Retroviruses
Author List: Contag, C.H., Dewhurst, S., Viglianti, G.A., and Mullins, J.I.
Edited By: Gallo, R.C., and Gilbert, J.
Published By: Academic Press1991 in Orlando, FL

Chapter Title: Proviral DNA cloning.
Book Title: Techniques in HIV research
Author List: Overbaugh, J., Dewhurst, S., and Mullins, J.I.
Edited By: Aldovini, A., and Walker, B. D.
Published By: Stockton Press1990 in New York.