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For his Ph.D., Mohan Somasundaran investigated protein-ligand interactions of sialic acid binding lectin (Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Calcutta and Stevens Institute of Technology, NJ). His postdoctoral studies were on lysosomal storage diseases (Washington University, St. Louis), and on HIV-1 cytopathology (Worcester Foundation/UMass Medical School). He continued as faculty at UMass Medical School to pursue molecular virology projects focusing on genotypic and phenotypic factors of cell-entry, replication and donor-to-recipient transmission of HIV, EBV, CMV, IAV and emerging infectious human pathogens (SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV2). He was the Director of BSL-3 Core Virus Lab and is member of UMass IBC.
His research interests are to:
Develop new molecular, cellular and molecular virology techniques for application in various research and translational projects specifically related to HIV-1, Influenza virus, SARS-CoV2
- Virus-Cell entry, replication and interactions
- Reverse genetics assays
- Structure-function assays for HIV/Influenza/SARS-CoV2 proteins and host-cell restriction (Apobec3) proteins
- Structure-based drug design and next generation antivirals
- Pyrosequencing of viral genomes
- Virus detection and quantification assays
- Point of Care early diagnostic assays for human pathogens
Utilize state-of-the-art structural biology techniques (i.e. Cryo-EM/ET) and interface with virology techniques to investigate virus structure vs infectivity, replication, evolution/fitness of Influenza virus, HIV-1 and SARS-CoV2
Our labs have a vibrant culture that supports academic research. Our multidisciplinary research team focuses on virus-cell interactions and the discovery of antiviral drug candidates. We use Influenza virus and SARS-CoV2 as model systems to study virus entry mechanisms and neutralization, to elucidate the roles of HA-mediated and Spike-mediated membrane fusion, and to develop the next generation of viral entry inhibitors and small molecule antivirals. We utilize techniques in Virology, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Structural Biology, Biochemistry, Cryo EM and Cryo ET to achieve our goals.
Influenza A virus (IAV) and SARS-CoV2 are causative agents of respiratory infections associated with high morbidity and mortality worldwide. Both pathogens pose a public health threat for which currently available vaccines are not always completely protective. Combating rapidly evolving pathogens evading immune pressures and resisting antivirals, along with emerging new human pathogens underscore the urgent need for defining the key pathways in virus-host cell interactions, entry and replication. Our studies focus on molecular virology, molecular biology, and structural biology of HIV, Influenza and SARS-CoV2 entry, neutralization, replication and inhibitors. We use several experimental models, including in vitro cell culture systems, structure-based drug design, computational approaches and Cryo EM & ET, to study disease pathogenesis. Our goal is to identify primary targets in virus attachment, entry and replication, and to quantitatively characterize virion morphology and glycoprotein density in its native state that can be used to design therapeutic strategies as well as next generation antivirals to thwart infection and disease progression.