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Research Focus

Featured Faculty


Peter Medveczky, MD

  • We are virologists and molecular biologists interested in oncogenic and neurotropic herpesviruses. These large DNA viruses cause cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Project 1 involves experiments on the Kaposi's sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) related to latency and oncogenic transformation. In this context we also study the role of marijuanas major compound THC and its receptors in modulation of oncogenic herpesviruses. Project is funded by a 5 year NIH grant.

  • Project 2 is molecular biology of the viral interleukin-6 (vIL-6) of KSHV that is possibly involved in the oncogenic transformation process. Funding is pending.

  • Project 3 Identification novel oncogenic viruses in AIDS lymphomas (50% has no known etiology). Funding is pending.

  • Project 4 Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (M.S.). Recent data show that variant HHV-6A infected marmosets develop an MS-like disease but variant B infected animals remain healthy suggesting that variant A virus encodes specific genes responsible for this phenotype. About 65 genes of the two variant genomes are highly homologous; however, about 15 genes show significant sequence divergence. Currently we are developing a system to identify genes of interest e.g. involved in neurotropism and M.S. Funded by a small grant and other grants are pending.

  • Project 5 HHV-6 is a unique human virus as we discovered that its genome integrates into telomeres of human chromosomes. We have identified families with integrated HHV-6 in chromosomes 17 and 18. These patients are diagnosed with various CNS conditions and show weakened immune responses.


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Post Docs


Eric Lewandowski

  • Our lab focuses on structure based drug design through the use of X-ray crystallography and molecular docking.
  • My research is focused on discovering novel inhibitors of the protein monofunctional transglycosylase (MTG). MTG catalyzes the second to last step of bacterial cell wall formation and has only one known inhibitor, but unfortunately it is ineffective in humans. By combining fragment based molecular docking with protein X-ray crystallography I hope to discover novel inhibitors against MTG and other transglycosylases involved in bacterial cell wall formation. These novel inhibitors could lead to a new class of antibiotic that would ultimately be effective against bacteria that are resistant to many currently available drugs.

Ph.D. Students

  • My current research focuses on understanding the role of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) in pancreatic cancer. It is well known that pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis and very low 5-year survival rates. Early detection poses a challenge mainly owing to the location of this organ and a non-symptomatic progression. At the molecular level, the oncogene RAS is known to be mutated and overexpressed in this cancer and the signaling pathways are somewhat understood. Using several pancreatic cancer cells lines, our recent findings show that APP is overexpressed in most pancreatic cancer cells lines as well. Preliminary studies have shown that APP can regulate RAS transcription levels and knock down of APP can inhibit RAS protein expression. Using this information, my project aims to understand the mechanism of regulation of RAS by APP and to establish APP, its processed fragments, and associated signaling pathways as possible targets for drug development against pancreatic cancer.