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VGTI in the News

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

Scott W. Wong, Ph.D.

Understanding how viruses cause disease is important to the development of effective antiviral therapies and potential vaccines.

The long-term goal of the Wong laboratory is to understand how viruses cause disease. This is important in developing effective antiviral therapies and potential vaccines. The Wong lab is currently investigating two types of viruses: orthopoxviruses, which induce disease similar to smallpox; and herpesviruses, which can induce severe disease in individuals. Some of these viruses are very specific for their natural hosts, a factor that complicates the ability to study the mechanisms of the human viruses in an animal model. An alternative approach is to utilize animal models that harbor viruses that are closely related to the human virus. One animal model that has proven to be invaluable in understanding the mechanisms of infectious disease and for vaccine development is the nonhuman primate.

By employing molecular, genetic and virological techniques, members of Dr. Wong’s laboratory examine how these nonhuman primate viruses infect and replicate in cell culture and eventually how they cause illnesses in vivo. They have shown that experimental inoculation of normal monkeys with orthopoxviruses causes disease that is virtually identical to smallpox and have identified novel viral proteins utilizing proteomic analysis that may facilitate disease. Additionally, experimental infection of immunocompromised monkeys with simian herpesviruses results in disease manifestations that closely resemble those observed in humans infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Utilizing these techniques they are identifying the viral determinants that contribute to disease and are devising novel recombinant molecules to help prevent viral pathogenesis. 


Dr. Wong received his Ph.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1987 studying eukaryotic DNA replication. Upon completing his degree he performed post-doctoral research at Stanford University and later at Harvard Medical School, where he focused on human herpesvirus replication and pathogenesis. He came to the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center in 1991 as an Assistant Scientist in the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology, and is now a Senior Scientist and interim Division Chief. Dr. Wong’s primary appointment is in the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, where he is a Senior Scientist and a Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Vatter HA, Donaldson EF, Huynh J, Rawlings S, Manoharan M, Legasse A, Planer S, Dickerson MF, Lewis AD, Colgin LM, Axthelm MK, Pecotte JK, Baric RS, Wong SW, Brinton MA. A simian hemorrhagic fever virus isolate from persistently infected baboons efficiently induces hemorrhagic fever disease in Japanese macaques. Virology. 2015 Jan 1;474:186-98. (doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2014.10.018.) [PMID: 25463617] Epub 2014 Nov 19.

Estep RD, Rawlings SD, Li H, Manoharan M, Blaine ET, O'Connor MA, Messaoudi I, Axthelm MK, Wong SW.  The rhesus rhadinovirus CD200 homologue affects immune responses and viral loads during in vivo infection. J Virol. 2014 Sep;88(18):10635-54. (doi: 10.1128/JVI.01276-14.) [PMID: 24991004, PMCID: PMC4178886] Epub 2014 Jul 2.

Alzhanova D, Hammarlund E, Reed J, Meermeier E, Rawlings S, Ray CA, Edwards DM, Bimber B, Legasse A, Planer S, Sprague J, Axthelm MK, Pickup DJ, Lewinsohn DM, Gold MC, Wong SW, Sacha JB, Slifka MK, Früh K. T cell inactivation by poxviral B22 family proteins increases viral virulence. PLoS Pathog. 2014 May 15;10(5):e1004123. (doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004123.) [PMID: 24832205, PMCID: PMC4022744] eCollection 2014.

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