Graduate Student Profile
BS in microbiology, minor in chemistry from North Dakota State University
Our lab focuses primarily on the molecular pathogenesis of small DNA viruses and the development of vaccines against them. Currently we are working on developing a more effective vaccine against porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2). PCV2 causes wasting disease in young pigs, and costs the pork industry millions of dollars in lost production. The vaccine currently in use to protect against PCV2 is becoming increasingly ineffective. Our lab aims to find new viral epitopes to target that will induce protective immunity.
We are also investigating torque teno virus (TTV), which is an orphan virus of which little is known. TTV is known to infect several animals, including humans, however the repercussions of these infections remain unclear. Our goal is to develop a proper in vitro culture system, which will make studying this virus much easier.
My research interests revolve around the interactions between viruses and their host cells. Specifically I am interested in how torque teno viruses (TTVs) persist in the host. TTVs are able to establish long-lasting (perhaps life-long) infections with seemingly no repercussions to host systems. There is evidence that these viruses can suppress NF-kB – a major transcriptional factor involved with inflammation, lymphocyte development, and cancer. Some believe that the modulation of NF-kB allows TTV to persist in the host while remaining subclinical. Although several other theories exist, it may be impossible to determine the mechanisms used by different TTVs without a proper in vitro culture system. For my research, the development of said system is goal #1, which will open doors to studying these unique viruses more thoroughly.
I am also interested in (although not currently studying) the use of viruses as vectors for gene delivery. I believe viruses have immense therapeutic potential if they are manipulated correctly. It is possible that TTV could be used as a viral vector, given its ability to establish persistent, seemingly benign infections in humans. Very little research exists in this field, but it remains a viable area of study.
Selected Publications/Notable Achievements:
Department and Community Involvement:
VMS Graduate Student Association