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LSU Today Flagship Faculty
What was your previous position and where?Before joining the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, I was a tenured, full professor of virology at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine in Manhattan, Kan.
What brought you to LSU?My decision to join LSU after 18 years of service at KSU was based on the fact that Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine has a strong research environment, better core laboratory facilities and a strong graduate program. In addition, the newly constructed large animal isolation facility at the LSU AgCenter was quite attractive to me.
What is your research interest?My research interests are molecular pathogenesis of bovine herpesvirus type I, or BHV-1, and equine herpesvirus type I, or EHV-1, viruses. BHV-1 is an economically important disease in cattle and EHV-1 neurological disease is an emerging disease in horses.
One area of research in my laboratory involves understanding the transneuronal spread of the virus. Specifically, we are interested in identifying the subdomains of two envelope proteins important for neuronal transport and to understand the mechanism. The second area involves understanding immune evasion mechanism. Specifically, my lab is working on identifying domain(s) of one envelope glycoprotein important for immune evasion. Mutant viruses are generated and analyzed in vitro in primary neuronal cultures that allow separation of axonal transport away from and towards the neuronal cell body. Additionally, the mutant viruses are tested in vivo in cattle for their pathogenicity and immunogenicity. One of the long term goals of these two projects is to incorporate the knowledge gained from these two studies to develop a better genetically engineered vaccine virus that would be safe, yet more immunogenic.
Recently, I have also been interested in studying the EHV-1 neuropathogenesis with special emphasis on EHV-1 and endothelial cells interaction at the molecular level.
What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?At LSU, I hope to benefit from a stronger research infrastructure and hope to develop superior and protective vaccines against the BHV-1 and EHV-1 viruses. Beside my research interests, I also have a strong commitment to veterinary and graduate teaching. Therefore, I would hope to make meaningful contributions in veterinary and graduate teaching as well.
What do you enjoy most about LSU?I enjoy the park-like setting of the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. I also especially like the Louisiana food.
What are your major accomplishments?I am quite close to having a superior, genetically engineered BHV-1 vaccine for cattle. I hope that within the next year or two we will be able to attract some corporate sponsors for licensing the BHV-1 vaccine and to secure additional corporate and/or federal funding for developing a suitable BHV-1 virus vector to deliver subunit vaccines against other significant bovine pathogens.