Washington University - School of Medicine, US

Dr. Herbert ‘Skip’ Virgin is the Edward Mallinckrodt Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology and Immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) in Saint Louis, USA.

He received his AB, MD and PhD from Harvard University prior to training in internal medicine and infectious diseases. He is a member of the NAS, ASCI, AAP, AAM and AAAS and serves on the editorial boards of Cell and Science.

The Virgin laboratory uses genetic, structural, computational and sequencing methods to define genetic concepts and molecular mechanisms that govern the relationship between host genes, the virome, and the pathogenesis of disease. They have identified the physiologic role and molecular mechanisms of several RNA and DNA virus immune evasion molecules, and studied host immune effector genes including ISG15, HOIL-1, cGAS and autophagy (Atg) genes. They found that herpesviruses can modulate innate immunity as mutualistic symbionts, developed the use of host complementation of viral phenotypes to prove the mechanisms of viral virulence genes in vivo, and formulated and proved the hypotheses that virus-plus-host-gene interactions define disease phenotypes. They discovered the first murine norovirus, developed the first culture and genetic systems for a norovirus, found that bacteria control norovirus persistence, identified sterilizing innate immune responses to viral infection, showed that the enteric virome is substantially expanded during AIDS  and demonstrated changes in the enteric virome associated with human inflammatory bowel disease. Recent work has shown that Atg genes regulate inflammation in vivo in a cell type- and organ-specific manner with implications for chronic viral infection, lung inflammation, infection with M. tuberculosis and auto-immune diseases such as lupus erythematosis and inflammatory bowel disease.

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Herbert Virgin's personal webpage

Speaker at
26-27 January 2017, Bruges, Belgium