Principle Investigator

Chris Sulllivan

Dr. Chris Sullivan

Professor, Molecular Biosciences

Laboratory Focus:

The discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) and small regulatory RNAs such as siRNAs and miRNAs, has dramatically changed our understanding of the regulation of gene expression. Consequently, RNAi has generated much excitement due to its regulatory and therapeutic potential. Our research focuses on understanding the interaction of viruses with the RNAi machinery in mammalian cells. We have shown that members of two different DNA tumor virus families encode microRNAs; likely to aid in their own replication and to promote infectivity. Members of the Polyoma virus family induce tumors in model organisms and at least one member (MCV) is associated with human tumors. Kaposi's Sarcoma associated Herpes Virus (KSHV) promotes highly vascularized skin lesions and rare B cell lymphomas, predominantly in immunosuppresed AIDS patients. Our goals are several-fold:

  1.  to understand the functions of viral and host encoded microRNAs and how they contribute to viral lifecycle, pathogenesis and tumorigenesis
  2.  to identify novel interactions of mammalian viruses with the host RNAi machinery
  3.  to uncover new mechanisms of gene regulation utilized by tumor viruses
  4.  to use viruses as "molecular divining rods" to probe for news classes 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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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
M.S in Cellular Engineering and Therapeutic Strategies, 2003
Ph.D. in Development and Experimentation of Antiviral Drugs, 2008

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


Ragini Kondetimmanahalli

Undergraduate Researcher
B.S. in Biology, 2020
B.A. in Plan II Honors, 2020

Project description: 

Exploring the function of non-coding RNAs in the context of viruses.


Halah Winner

Undergraduate Researcher
B.S in Biology at The University of Texas at Austin, 2020

Project description: 

Developing molecular tools with applications for developing new vectors for gene therapy and better

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Undergraduate Rearch Assistant

An Khong

An Khong

Undergraduate Research Assistant
B.S in Biochemistry at The University of Texas at Austin, 2020

Project Description:

Maintaining the equipment and supplies to ensure the lab runs smoothly.

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