Microorganisms have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to interfere with the ensuing immune response, leading to a race between microbe (virulence) and immune system (resistance) that dictates whether the pathogen establishes chronically or is eliminated. Dramatic examples of human viruses wining this race are human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Despite major scientific and medical efforts, these viruses continue to affect the lives of millions of people globally.
Viral persistence requires a long-term relationship between the host and the microbe that involves multiple layers of interactions from molecular to cellular to whole organisms. Our laboratory studies cellular and molecular aspects of virus-host interactions during acute versus chronic viral infections to determine general principles of viral immune-evasion, persistence and pathogenesis. The ultimate goal is to modulate or recover immune system functions to prevent or eradicate chronic viral infections.