ohsu main banner HomeAboutResearch ButtonFacultyResourcesGrants and AwardsNews and EventsSeminarsGraduate ProgramOpportunitiesContributeContact VGTIwelcome bannershodow image
donate here

VGTI in the News

The Art of Self- Defence (Nature) (click to download)

Jay A. Nelson, Ph.D.

Jay A. Nelson, Ph.D is a senior molecular virologist with over 166 papers and reviews on a variety of topics including herpesviruses, retroviruses, and flaviviruses. He has received Faculty Awards from the American Cancer Society, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and is an Editor for Journal of Virology and Associate Editor for PLOS Pathogens. The primary focus of Dr. Nelson’s research over the years has centered on the molecular pathogenesis of cytomegalovirus (CMV). Some of the seminal observations from his laboratory include the identification of the latent reservoir of the virus as a myeloid lineage cell, the identification and characterization of a viral G-coupled receptor as a factor in the acceleration of vascular disease, the characterization of virally encoded microRNAs (as well as the CMV genes regulated by these RNA species), the use of CMV as an effective vaccine platform, and more recently, the generation of a humanized mouse to study molecular aspects of human CMV latency and reactivation. Over the past 5 years, Dr. Nelson’s group in collaboration with Drs Klaus Früh, Janko Nikolich-Zugich, and Ashlee Moses, has established a program to elucidate host-pathogen interactions with West Nile virus. These studies included the use of functional genomic approaches to determine that cYes, a cellular Src kinase, is an important regulator of flavivirus maturation and an enzyme hijacked by the virus resulting in tight junction malfunction. These studies form the basis of Project 4.2. The second aspect of Dr. Nelson’s flavivirus program is his work with Dr. Nikolich-Zugich to elucidate mechanisms of West Nile virus disease in the aged immunosenescent population

Dr. Nelson is also the founder and Director of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute (VGTI; described later in this section). The founding goal of the VGTI was to assemble a multidisciplinary team of scientists to respond to increasingly serious viral disease threats including AIDS, chronic viral infection-associated diseases, newly emerging viral diseases, and infectious diseases of the elderly. The development of vaccines and novel immune and gene therapeutic approaches to these diseases are the major priorities of the faculty. Recently, the VGTI signed a contract with the state of Florida to expand the institute to Port St. Lucie. Dr. Rafick Sékaly, a top-flight immunologist, was recruited as Co-Director of VGTI Florida. Dr. Nelson will be the Director of both VGTI Oregon and Florida, with Drs Picker and Sékaly the Co-Directors at the respective institutes with responsibilities for directing their scientific programs. Dr. Sékaly will also have an appointment at VGTI Oregon and the ONPRC. Dr. Nelson’s laboratory will remain at VGTI Oregon, where he will direct the PNWRCE.


California State University, Hayward, CA, B.S., Biological Sciences, 1975.

Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, Ph.D., Microbiology, 1980.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, 1980-1984.

Teaching Assistant, Department of Microbiology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, 

Predoctoral Trainee, National Institutes of Health, Department of Microbiology, Oregon State University with Dr. Jo-Ann Leong, 1975-1980

Research Associate, Tumor Biology Program at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center with Drs. James K. McDougall and Denise A. Galloway, 1980-1981.

Postdoctoral Fellow of the National Institutes of Health awarded from the National Cancer Institute, 1981-1984.

Assistant Member, Department of Immunology, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA, 1984 -1989.

Associate Member, Department of Immunology, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA, 1989-1992.

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, University of California at San Diego, CA, 1990-1992.

Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR, 1992-present

Head of Pathobiology and Immunology Division, Oregon Regional Primate Research Center, Beaverton, OR, 1998 to 2000

Director of Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR, 1998 to present

Director of Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, Florida, Port St. Lucie, FL 2008 to Present

Director of the Pacific Northwest Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases 2009 to Present

MacManiman, J.D., A. Meuser, S. Botto, P. Smith, F. Liu, M. A. Jarvis, J. A. Nelson, and P. Caposio. Human Cytomegalovirus-Encoded pUL7 is a novel CEACAM1-like molecule responsible for promotion of angiogenesis. MBio. 2014 Oct 28;5(6):e02035. (doi: 10.1128/mBio.02035-14.) [PMID: 25352622, PMCID: PMC4217178]

Hook L, Hancock M, Landais I, Grabski R, Britt W, Nelson JA. Cytomegalovirus microRNAs. Curr Opin Virol. 2014 Aug;7:40-6. (DOI: 10.1016/j.coviro.2014.03.015) [PMID: 24769092, PMCID: PMC4149926] Epub 2014 Apr 23.

Hook LM, Landais I, Hancock MH, Nelson JA. Techniques for characterizing cytomegalovirus-encoded miRNAs.  Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1119:239-65. (DOI: 10.1007/978-1-62703-788-4_14) [PMID: 24639227]

Hook, L. M., F. Grey, R. Grabski, R. Tirabassi, T. Doyle, M. Hancock, I Landais, S. Jeng, S. McWeeney, W. Britt, and J. A. Nelson. Cytomegalovirus miRNAs target secretory pathway genes to facilitate formation of the virion assembly compartment and reduce cytokine secretion. Cell Host & Microbe 15:363-73. 2014 Mar 12;15(3):363-73 (DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2014.02.004) [PMID: 24629342, PMCID: PMC4029511]  Journal Impact Factor 12.194.

For full list click here