Texas Biomed Staff
Scientist | Virology and Immunology
Doctoral Degree: Ph.D. Virology (1985)
Cornell University NY
Master's Degree: M.P.H. Epidemiology (1980)
University of Minnesota MN
Bachelor's Degree B.S. Microbiology
University of Nebraska NE
NRC Fellow, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA
The high mutability of RNA viruses leads to a wide range of their genetic variants being transmitted in nature. We concentrate our studies on those viruses which are constantly evolving in the tropics, mainly mosquito- and rodent-borne viruses which include some of the most pathogenic known to man. Using rapid nucleotide sequencing techniques, we have obtained phylogenetic or family trees of the genetic relationships of many different viruses. These trees can then be interpreted to: (1) detect virus transmission pathways during epidemics and around the world, (2) determine which virus variants may be attenuated or less prone to producing disease, or conversely, which may be more virulent or cause more epidemics, (3) pick the best genetic and/or antigenic representative, to serve as a vaccine strain, and (4) detect and identify emerging viruses, to pinpoint their geographic origin and determine the best way to interrupt their transmission. We also use molecular clones of some viruses to determine which genetic/structural components are involved in pathogenesis, so that we may design new vaccines to control these exotic diseases at their origin. We have also developed the only animal model of dengue disease that mimics clinical presentation in humans (in “humanized” NOD/SCID/IL2γ-null mice).
Awards and Honors
1977 National Hispanic Student Award1983 W.F. Scherer Memorial Award, Am. Soc. Trop. Med. & Hyg.1985-1987 National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship1988 Charles C. Shephard Science Award, Centers for Disease Control1989 Public Health Service Special Recognition Award1990-1993 Councilor, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene1992-1993 Chairman, American Committee on Arthropod-borne Viruses1993-1998 Research Career Development Award, National Institutes of Health2001- Chairman, Gorgas Memorial Research Award Committee
Dengue virus virulence and transmission determinants.
Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 338: 45-55, 2010
PubMed ID: 19802577
Dengue virus markers of virulence and pathogenicity.
Future Virol. 4 (6): 581, 2009
PubMed ID: 20161679