My research interest for the last decade has been focused on the molecular biology, immunology, and pathogenesis of negative-strand (Influenza viruses, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human Metapneumovirus, arenavirus, Thogoto virus, Ebola virus, Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever virus) and positive-strand (Dengue virus, SARS coronavirus, Mouse Hepatitis virus) RNA, and DNA viruses. I have extensive knowledge in reverse genetics techniques for rescuing RNA and DNA viruses, pioneered the development of techniques and screening assays to identify viral-encoded interferon antagonist proteins, and established new molecular biology techniques to study highly pathogenic viruses without the requirement of special biosafety conditions. My major contributions to the virology field include the development of new experimental systems to answer difficult questions in the mechanisms of virus-host interactions, including: 1) Reverse genetics tools to genetically manipulate viruses, that I have used to examine virus-host interactions and development of vaccines; 2) Plasmid, virus and cellular based assays for the identification of virus-encoded IFN-antagonist proteins that I have used to uncover molecular mechanisms involved in viral pathogenesis, including the first description of an IFN antagonist protein in the arenavirus family and the multiple anti-IFN actions of influenza virus NS1; and 3) Single-cycle infectious influenza and arenaviruses to study highly pathogenic viruses, without the requirement of special biosafety conditions.
Since my recent appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at University of Rochester, one of the 5 NIAID Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance, my research has focused on the interactions of influenza and arenavirus proteins with the host cell. My experience in molecular biology, virus reverse genetics techniques, and virus-based bioassays to study the interferon response gives me the unique opportunity to carry out innovative and original research projects, the major objective of which is to shed light and understand the molecular determinants of patogenesis of influenza and arenaviruses and how these viruses interact with their hosts.