About us

Our research interests focus on understanding the mechanisms of cytomegalovirus (CMV) pathogenesis and how to exploit its unique interface with the immune system to develop effective vaccine vectors. CMV is the leading viral cause of congenital birth defects and virus reactivation from latency is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality following solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. We are especially interested in understanding the mechanisms of viral latency and reactivation in human stem cells and have developed in vitro and in vivo models to study human CMV latency. Our focus is on understanding the role that viral proteins and non-coding RNAs play in modulating the signaling pathways necessary for establishment of and reactivation from latency in stem cells. Understanding the molecular mechanisms utilized by the virus to control latent infection is crucial for the development of new therapeutics. In addition, along with many of our colleagues at the VGTI, we are also working to understand the viral mechanisms driving the elicitation of unique, HLA-E-restricted CD8+ T cell responses during vaccination with rhesus CMV-based vaccine vectors that are critical for protection against SIV.