Nicholas Heaton, PhD
Our lab is interested in the genetic engineering of negative sense RNA viruses, particularly respiratory viruses such as influenza viruses. These manipulated viruses, together with transgenic animal models, allow us to ask novel questions about the biology of viral infections. We have established systems that allow for the tagging of viral proteins as well as the insertion of entire genes with minimal costs to the virulence of the virus. These platforms allow us to generate novel viral tools for probing specific aspects of viral infections not previously possible.
We are currently interested in the use of influenza viruses that express various reporter proteins that allow us to to:
1.) Study viral tropisms and cell fate following infection
2.) Understand how infections influence immunity to secondary infections
3.) Evaluate vaccination strategies and antiviral therapeutic efficacies in vivo
Additionally, we are interested in engineering these viruses for various biotechnology applications such as vaccine delivery systems.
Our over-arching goal is to further our basic understanding of how cells are altered by viral infection, and how that alteration affects lung disease in the short and long term. Our increased understanding of these mechanisms will allow us to apply this knowledge to develop new, or improve existing, treatments for respiratory virus disease.