Principle Investigator

Chris Sulllivan

Dr. Chris Sullivan

Professor, Molecular Biosciences

Laboratory Focus:

The discovery of silencing non-coding RNAs has dramatically changed our understanding of the regulation of gene expression. This has opened up a new area in the regulation of the immune response. Our research focuses on understanding the role of non-coding RNAs in virus infection and host defense pathways. We work with an array of diverse virus families including DNA tumor viruses and RNA viruses, as well as the enzyme DUSP11. DUSP11 is an RNA phosphatase that helps to regulate the innate immune response. Our goals are several-fold:

  1. To understand the functions of viral and host-encoded non-coding RNAs and how they contribute to viral lifecycle and pathogenesis 
  2. To explore the functions and regulation of immunogenic non-coding RNAs
  3. To uncover new mechanisms of gene regulation utilized by viruses and the host
  4. To use viruses as "molecular divining rods" to probe for new classes of host defense pathways.

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Katie Ragan

Dr. Katie Ragan

Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology, 2018
B.S. in Chemistry at The College of William and Mary, 2014

Project Description:

Exploring noncanonical mechanisms of PRR activation.

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Dr. Dominique Stephens

Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Howard University, 2020
M.Sc. in Biophysical Chemistry at Georgia State University, 2016

Project Description:

Studying the pathway extracellular vesicles use to modulate the innate immune response during infection.

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Graduate Students


Joon Choi

Graudate Student
B.S. in Life Science at Korea University

Project Description: 

Exploring the function and regulation of immunogenic non-coding RNAs

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Visiting Scholar


Dr. Sylvain Blois

Visiting Scholar
Ph.D. in Development and Experimentation of Antiviral Drugs, 2008
M.S in Cellular Engineering and Therapeutic Strategies, 2003

Project Description: 

Study of the roles of microRNA in the murine Polyomavirus infection and pathogenesis.

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Lab Management


Upasana Nepal

Research Associate and Lab Manager
B.S in Physics with Elements of Computation Certification, 2019

Project Description

Probing the role of ncRNA and factors that modulate RNA in human disease.

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Undergraduate Researchers


Karina Tacconi

Undergraduate Researcher
B.S. in Biology, 2023

Project description:

Exploring the host machinery involved in the regulation of RNA polymerase III transcribed noncoding RNAs. 

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Olivia Conway

Undergraduate Researcher
B.S. in Biochemistry, 2023
B.A. in Plan II Honors, 2023

Project description:

Investigating the role of B2 protein in the host viral response and identifying RISC-associated proteins related to

Undergraduate Research Assistants