Virology, Immunology, and Vaccine Development

Dr. Mergia works in his lab

Dr. Ayalew Mergia works in his lab

Image of Dr. David Pascual operating a microscope

Dr. David Pascual operates a microscope

The Virology, Immunology, and Vaccine Development group is focused on a multidisciplinary research and educational program with a wide range of interests in basic and applied research which relate to virus pathogens and host immune defense to infection. Faculty members use state-of-the-art cell, molecular, immunological, and genetic approaches to examine the interface of pathogen-host cell interactions and dissect the molecular mechanisms involved in regulation of the immune response for vaccine development.


Specific areas of research:

  • Cellular immune functions for T-cell based vaccines to develop vaccines for immunodeficiency viruses
  • Development of immunotherapeutic drugs for infectious diseases and cancers
  • The design of computational models for major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-related diseases and therapeutics
  • Recombinant West Nile vaccine
  • Development and application of serological assays (ELISA‚Äôs) for the mass-screening of cetacean, pinniped, and sirenian viral antibodies using recombinant antigens expressed in insect cell cultures
  • Development and validation of real-time PCR and real-time RT-PCR assays for the mass-screening of viruses in tissues and lesions from stranded cetaceans, pinnipeds, and sirenians
  • Epidemiology and control of emerging viral diseases and their relationship to human and wildlife populations
  • Evaluating the toxicity of gene therapy in animals using replication-incompetent adenovirus vectors
  • Development of novel viral vectors for HIV gene therapy