My research focuses on infectious diseases, with a primary study of viral pathogens that cause acute gastroenteritis, such as noroviruses and rotaviruses. My team and I also study influenza viruses based on our understanding of the host carbohydrate receptors' role in controlling host ranges and evolution that we learned from our research of noroviruses and rotaviruses.
Norovirus and rotavirus are both diverse pathogens that infect humans as well as animals. Their ability to cause infection is dependent on host carbohydrate receptors. Understanding the function of carbohydrate receptors in controlling norovirus evolution helps to elucidate their diversity, host ranges and species barriers. Our research will result in a better understanding of their epidemiology and provide evidence to support vaccine development against noroviruses and rotaviruses. Similar principles also apply to influenza viruses and coronaviruses.
We started our research on noroviruses and then extended to rotaviruses after finding similar principles of the role host carbohydrate receptors play in controlling host ranges and evolution of the two viral families. Our research is translational as host carbohydrates are important host susceptibility factors or convergent evolutional factors for many other viral and bacterial pathogens. Extending our study to influenza viruses was a logical choice.
Findings on the host carbohydrate receptors provide valuable information for vaccine development against the viral pathogens that cause gastroenteritis. Our extended discovery of the host sialic acid expression on zoonotic influenza viruses helps with our understanding of epidemiology for future vaccine development.
Our work is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Defense (DOD). I have been a researcher for more than 37 years and began working with Cincinnati Children’s in 2001.
Infectious diseases; viral gastroenteritis
Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics