Research Interests

Virus Discovery in Diseases of Unknown Etiology

We utilize cutting edge genomic methods to systematically interrogate clinical specimens from diseased hosts for viruses in an unbiased fashion. This includes massively parallel screening using a pan-viral DNA microarray (ViroChip) and high throughput mass sequencing strategies. The ViroChip currently contains >20,000 viral 70mers designed from all human, animal, plant and insect viruses in Genbank. By strategic targeting a mixture of highly conserved and unique sequences for representation on the microarray, the ViroChip is capable of detecting thousands of known viruses as well as novel viruses with homology to known viral families. A complementary approach, high throughput mass sequencing, entails sequencing of random clones (via Sanger chemistry) or highly parallel pyrosequencing (454 technology) followed by computational analysis to identify sequences with similarity to known viruses.


We are currently focused on viral discovery in a number of human diseases. For example, a significant fraction of respiratory infections, encephalitis and diarrhea are of unknown etiology. Viruses have been hypothesized to play a role in diverse conditions such as Kawasaki's Disease, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few, making them logical targets of investigation. In addition, unrecognized viruses may contribute to more than the ~15% of human cancers currently believed to be infectious in origin. Finally, diseases of animals and plants are also under investigation.