Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh

My research is focused on the viral pathogenesis of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and antiviral discovery. HBV is the etiologic agent of viral hepatitis B, a disease affecting approximately 350 million people worldwide who suffer the high risk of liver failure, cirrhosis and liver cancer. My laboratory aims at understanding the molecular mechanisms of HBV DNA replication and morphogenesis, with special focus on the biosynthesis and regulation of HBV covalently closed circular (ccc) DNA, which is the persistent form of HBV infection, and is the culprit for the failure of current antiviral therapies. Making use of the HBV cccDNA reporter cell line systems recently established by us, we are screening small molecule compound libraries for cccDNA inhibitors in a high throughput fashion, and two identified cccDNA formation inhibitors are currently under preclinical development. In addition, we are studying the innate immunity and oncogenic signaling pathways that regulate HBV replication, as well as identification and characterization of host restriction factors that inhibit HBV infection and propagation in human hepatocytes.

Experience

  • –present
    Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh