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 important 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 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 PhD from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1987 and performed post-doctoral research at Stanford Medical School and Harvard University Medical School. He came to the center in 1991 as an Assistant Scientist in the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology, where he is now a Senior Scientist. In addition to his appointment at the ONPRC, he is an Associate Scientist in the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute and an Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Key Publications

Okroj M, Mark L, Stokowska A, Wong SW, Rose N, Blackbourn DJ, Villoutreix BO, Spiller OB, Blom AM. 2009. Characterization of the complement inhibitory function of rhesus rhadinovirus complement control protein (RCP). J Biol. Chem. 284:505-514.

Schmitt K, Hill MS, Ruiz A, Culley N, Pinson DM, Wong SW, Stephens EB. 2009. Mutations in the highly conserved SLQYLA motif of Vif in a simian-human immunodeficiency virus result in a less pathogenic virus and are associated with G-to-A mutations in the viral genome. Virology. 383:362-372.

Orzechowska BU, Powers MF, Sprague J, Li H, Yen B, Searles RP, Axthelm MK, Wong SW. 2008. Rhesus Macaque Rhadinovirus-associated Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Animal Model for KSHV-associated Malignancies. Blood. 112:4227-4234.

Mottaz-Brewer HM, Norbeck AD, Adkins JN, Manes NP, Ansong C, Shi L, Rikihisa Y, Kikuchi T, Wong SW, Estep RD, Heffron F, Pasa-Tolic L, Smith RD. 2008. Optimization of proteomic sample preparation procedures for comprehensive protein characterization of pathogenic systems. J. Biomol. Tech. 19:285-25.

Manes NP, Estep RD, Mottaz HM, Moore RJ, Clauss TRW, Monroe ME, Adkins JN, Wong SW, Smith RD. 2008. Comparative Proteomics of Human Monkeypox and Vaccinia Intracellular Mature and Extracellular Enveloped Virions. J. Proteome Res.7:960-968.

Estep RD, Powers MF, Yen B, Li H, Wong SW. 2007. Construction of an Infectious Rhesus Rhadinovirus (RRV) Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) for the Analysis of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) Related Disease Development. J. Virol. 81:2957-2969.