Department of Pediatrics

Laboratory of Translational Virology

Master
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Laboratory Director and Principal Investigator

People
First Name
Shannon
Last Name
Ronca
Honorific Title
PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
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Lab Team

People
First Name
Freedom
Middle Name
Marie
Last Name
Green
Acting Assistant Laboratory Director
First Name
Stephen
Middle Name
Anthony
Last Name
Shaw
Honorific Title
B.S.
Research Technician II
First Name
Lauren
Middle Name
J
Last Name
Bonilla
Research Technician II
First Name
Jennifer
Middle Name
Lynn Spencer
Last Name
Clinton
Honorific Title
Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
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About the Lab

Content

The Laboratory of Translational Virology is dedicated to improving understanding of pathogenesis and treatment of high-risk and high-consequence viral pathogens.

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Laboratory Projects

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SARS-CoV-2

Our laboratory aims to understand the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2.

One of our goals is to understand how environmental factors contribute to SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis. We are currently funded through NIH/NIEHS to study Mechanisms of exacerbation of COVID-19 pathogenesis in mice expressing human ACE2 by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and its protection by inhibition of soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH). We aim to understand how lung injury associated with benzo[a]pyrene (BP), a PAH, affects SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis and if sEH inhibitors can counteract this damage in the context of infection.  We conduct this study as part of a multi-PI collaboration with Dr. Bhagavatula Moorthy.

We are also interested in ways that SARS-CoV-2 affects other organ systems, including the GI tract, appendix, and the brain.

In collaboration with other researchers at BCM, we have identified and tested compounds that may inhibit SARS-CoV-2 entry and replication. We hope to identify viable therapeutic options that can be used with vaccines to help prevent severe infections.

Related Publications:

Alphaviruses

Viruses in the Alphavirus genus of the Togaviridae family pose a significant threat to humans. These arboviruses are transmitted by Aedes spp mosquitoes and are broadly divided into New World and Old World. New World viruses mostly cause encephalitic disease, while Old World viruses mostly cause arthritic disease.

  • Chikungunya, an Old World Alphavirus
    Chikungunya is an arbovirus transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. CHIKV can cause a febrile illness leading to arthralgia and a lower quality of life. In the past 15 years, CHIKV has greatly expanded its geographic distribution and become a global health threat due to its high rate of infectivity and the severity of the disease it cause.  As a result of the rapid emergence of CHIKV, there is demand for interventions that mitigate disease burden.
     
  • New World Alphaviruses
    New world alphaviruses that are of interest to our laboratory are Western, Eastern, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis viruses.

West Nile Virus

In conjunction with the Zoonoses and Viral Diseases Laboratory, we work to identify mechanisms of central nervous system disease during WNV infection.

Related Publications:

Viral Diseases of Venezuela

In conjunction with members of the VeConVen network, we work to improve viral detection in Venezuela.

Vector Ecology

Vectors are critical to understanding viral transmission. We work with property owners throughout the state of Texas to collect mosquito vectors. We identify the species collected and any viruses of human or veterinary importance that they may be carrying. It is our goal to streamline a process that allows us to identify mosquito species and viruses of interest in a single sequencing step. This work is funded in part by The Texas Ecolab program.

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Laboratory Facilities

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Since most of our research involves high-risk pathogens, we perform most experiments in the Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory. The rest of our work is conducted in the Section for Tropical Medicine, the Center for Human Immunobiology in Texas Children’s Hospital, or throughout the state of Texas at our field collection sites.