Given the ever-present global burden of influenza virus and newly emerging pathogens such as West Nile, yellow fever, and dengue virus, the study of host-virus interactions can result in discoveries that have immediate impact on human health. We focus on the study of cellular recognition and the transcriptional response to RNA virus infections in an effort to develop novel vaccine strategies. Focus areas include virus-induced cell signaling and the interplay between infection and microRNA-mediated posttranscriptional gene silencing.
As an Innovation Fund investigator, tenOever’s lab is teaming with the lab of Felicia D. Goodrum, Ph.D., to look for ways to better understand how viruses cause infections. This grant allows them to combine efforts in developing a system to study human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)—a form of herpesvirus—in cell types important to viral persistence. TenOever and Goodrum will devise a system to better manipulate the virus to determine the function of specific viral genes. Their findings are poised to advance understanding of how viruses lie dormant to cause persistent infections, and may ultimately result in new ways of controlling virus replication and developing an effective HCMV vaccine.