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Predoctoral Students

Email Address




Robert A. Charvat


B.A., Biology-Chemistry, 2006, Manchester College

Research: Defective interfering particles (DIP) of equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV) are capable of mediating a state of persistent infection.  The DIP genome is comprised of an origin of replication, a cleavage/packaging sequence, and only three genes: UL3, UL4, and a unique gene that is a hybrid of portions of regulatory genes IR4 and UL5.  The goals of this project are to assess the functions of the UL3 and UL4 genes in EHV cytocidal infection and to ascertain if over-expression of UL3 and/or UL4 in the context of the DIP genome contributes to the interference of infectious virus production mediated by DIP.

Carrie B. Coleman

[email protected]


B. S., Biology, 2002, The University of Tennessee at Martin
Research: Gammaherpesviruses cause infections of cells derived from the bone marrow, and are associated with numerous types of malignancies.  Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (gammaHV68) is genetically related to the human gammaherpesviruses, and provides a small animal model for mechanistic studies of the virus/host relationship in vivo .  We are currently examining the role of infection of B cells and monocytes in the bone marrow, and the effects of this infection on the pathogenesis of viral infection.  We are also defining whether these types of infections alter hematopoietic cell development and function, and determining whether these alterations are involved in the development of lymphoma.

Donna Collins-McMillen

[email protected]


B.S., Biology 2009, Stephen F. Austin State University
Research:  Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) establishes a lifelong persistent infection in its host through viral spread to multiple organ sites. Monocytes are key cells for infection with HCMV and are thought to be involvedin viral spread via a hematogenous route. The focus of my research is to examine the molecular changes that are promoted in target monocytes during infection that facilitate viral survival and dissemination.

Mindy L. Gore

[email protected]


B. S., Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University and A & M College
Research: The analysis of the roles of the BDLF2 and BMRF2 gene products in infection of B cells and epithelial cells by Epstein-Barr virus.


Shannon M. Kahan


B.S., Microbiology, Texas A&M University

Research: Equine herpesvirus 1 (EHV) serves as a useful model to understand how a virus infection can activate the immune system such that a severe inflammatory disease results.  EHV glycoprotein gp2, a 791 residue mucin-like protein, is essential for EHV to cause a fatal inflammatory disease of the lung.  The goals of this project are: 1. to generate and assess in the mouse model recombinant EHV that express portions of gp2 in order to identify the specific gp2 domain that mediates the cytokine/chemokine storm leading to inflammatory disease; and 2. to ascertain the molecular mechanism by which gp2 elicits the increased expression of proinflammatory molecules.


Nicholas E. Martinez

M.S., Biology, 2009, Western Carolina University
Research:  Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disease in the central nervous system. Although the precise etiology of MS is unknown, autoimmune responses as well as viral infection have been associated with the pathogenesis. I am investigating the roles of immune cells, including effector and regulatory cells, in demyelination and axonal degeneration using autoimmune and viral models for MS: experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) and Theiler's murine encephalomyelitis virus infection.

Michael S. Nealy

[email protected]


B. S., Biological Science, McNeese State University
Research: Gammaherpesviruses cause life-long infections in humans (latency), and are associated with numerous types of malignancies including lymphoma.  Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (gammaHV68) is genetically related to the human viruses, and provides a small animal model for mechanistic studies of the virus/host relationship in vivo .  We are currently generating mutant viruses to use as tools to dissect the central role of latency in immune evasion and pathogenesis.  The long-term goal of these studies is to better understand the mechanisms by which gammaherpesviruses cause life-long infection and disease.


Maciej T. Nogalski


M.Sc., Chemistry, 2004, University of Warsaw

Research:  A hallmark of HCMV disease is a multiple organ system involvement that stems from the widespread dissemination of the virus within the infected host. Therefore, a critical feature of infection is the hematogenous dissemination of the virus. Our studies have identified that HCMV infects monocytes and induces their extravasation and differentiation into productively infected macrophages. We are currently investigating the HCMV-induced molecular changes in monocytes to better understand how these cells are involved in viral spread and disease.


Krista D. Queen


B.S., Biology, 2006, Louisiana State University - Shreveport

Research: I am investigating Epstein-Barr Virus induced epigenetic alterations in infected carcinoma cells.


Kathleen F. Richards


B.S., Biology, 2008, University of North Texas

Research:  Human papillomaviruses are associated with 7% of cancers in women world-wide.  Following attachment to heparan sulfate moieties present in the extracellular matrix and on cell surface both viral capsid proteins undergo conformational changes that can be sensed with monoclonal antibodies.  My project involves defining these shifts in conformation at the molecular level, which will give a detailed understanding of the processes leading to interaction with the uptake receptor, infectious entry, and thus disease outbreak.


Emily Stevenson


B.S., Medical Technology, 2008, Louisiana Tech University

Research:  Hematogenous dissemination of human cytomegalovirus in infected monocytes is essential for life-long viral persistence.  The strategy human cytomegaloviruses uses to promote spread from the blood in infected monocytes links viral persistence to viral-mediated disease.  The focus of my research is to investigate the early mechanisms employed by the virus to trigger the biological changes in target monocytes that promote viral spread.


Sarah M. Valencia


B.S., Biology, 2002, The University of Missouri-Kansas

Research:  Epstein Barr virus infects primarily two cell types B lymphocytes and Epithelial cells.  The purpose of my research is to examine and compare entry and intracellular transport of EBV within these two cell types.


The project described was supported by NIH Grant Number
P20RR018724 from the National Center for Research Resources.