Alex Michael Ward
I received my PhD from the University of Virginia in 2008 working with David Rekosh and Lou Hammarskj÷ld on the mechanism of action of a novel antisense therapeutic targeting HIV-1 (Ward et al., J. Virol. 2008).
In addition to research on therapeutics for infectious diseases, I maintain a broad interest in the interaction of viruses with host cell proteins. A current focus of my work is the contribution of host cell RNA binding proteins to viral replication. This will both increase our understanding of how viruses utilize host cells and will help to evaluate their potential as therapeutic targets. Using genetic and biochemical techniques, we have begun to characterize the retinue of cellular RNA binding proteins that interact with the Dengue untranslated region and mediate virus translation and replication (Ward et al., RNA Biol. 2011). In collaboration with Jayantha Gunaratne (Quantitative Proteomics Group, IMCB, Singapore), we have identified several host 3'-5' exonucleases that bind to Dengue RNA and contribute to early events of Dengue replication. By increasing our understanding of these processes, we hope to develop novel therapeutic strategies to treat Dengue infection. This research is supported by the Singapore Ministry of Health's National Medical Research Council under its Cooperative Basic Research Grant- New Investigator Grant scheme.