Appalachian State University, USA
I am an Assistant Professor of Biology at Appalachian State University and have been here since 2010. I received my Ph.D. at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in 1997 in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, in the field of Molecular Virology. From 1998-2001, I carried out my postdoctoral work at the Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania investigating the mechanisms of herpes simplex virus latency and pathogenesis. I moved back to Wake Forest University School of Medicine in 2001 and carried out research in developing vesicular stomatitis virus as anti-cancer agents. My present research at Appalachian State University focuses on virus-host interactions and development of oncolytic agents against a variety of cancer types.
My research focuses on the mechanisms by which specific cells, such as cancer cells and immune cells, respond to a prototype negative strand RNA virus, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). Furthermore, I am interested in developing VSV an oncolytic agent used to treat cancer cells. VSV is currently being developed as an oncolytic agent due to its ability to potently kill a variety of cancer cells. However, the success of VSV-based cancer therapies is determined by several factors including the permissiveness of cancer cells to virus infection, the ability of the virus to spread through tumor tissues, and the ability of the host immune response to promote anti-tumor responses. We are interested in determining the potential of VSV as an anti-tumor agent for the treatment of highly aggressive tumors by investigating these factors in cell culture models and in small animal models of breast, cervical and prostate cancers. Furthermore, we are currently developing combination therapeutic strategies based on natural products that may serve to promote tumor cell killing by VSV and enhance anti-tumor immune responses.