AVS

University of Otago

Prof Vernon Ward

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Professor of Virology

Department of Microbiology & immunology

Otago School of Medical Sciences

University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Tel: +64 (0)3 4799028

Email:vernon.ward@otago.ac.nz

Web:  https://micro.otago.ac.nz/our-people/teaching-research-and-support/vernon-ward/

Viruses are well known for their ability to cause disease, but the diversity of virus structure and replication offers many opportunities to exploit virus particles, their structure and their replication for beneficial purposes. My calicivirus research involves the study of noroviruses to increase our understanding of the role(s) of viral proteins and the host-virus interaction as well as the development of virus-like particles from Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus for the presentation of peptides and proteins to mammalian immune systems through structure based design and engineering of the viral particle for the development of cell-mediated immunity. I retain an ongoing interest in invertebrate virology, in particular baculoviruses and their use and iridoviruses.

 

 

A/Prof Merilyn Hibma

Dunedin School of Medicine/Pathology

University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

 Email:  merilyn.hibma@otago.ac.nz

Tel: +64 3 479 7726

Web:  http://www.otago.ac.nz/dsm-pathology/people/profile/index.html?id=1689

Viral Immune regulation and its contribution to skin pathogenesis.  Merilyn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, Dunedin School of Medicine. She worked for the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in University of Cambridge with Lionel Crawford (FRS), before being awarded an HRC Repatriation Fellowship and returning to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Otago. In 2014 she was appointed to the Department of Pathology.  Her research interests include viral regulation of cell function and immunity in the skin, with a particular emphasis on human papillomavirus (HPV) and cancer. HPV causes persistent infections of cutaneous and mucosal skin and is the causal agent of cervical cancer. Although an effective prophylactic vaccine has been developed for the major cancer-causing HPV types, there is a continuing need for better therapeutics for HPV to address the health needs of individuals who are already infected with this high-prevalence virus. Understanding viral regulation of immunity by HPV and developing better immunotherapeutics to treat HPV are the focus of her research.

 

Dr Steve Fleming 

Department of Microbiology & immunology

Otago School of Medical Sciences

University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 479 7727

Email:stephen.fleming@otago.ac.nz

Web: https://micro.otago.ac.nz/our-people/teaching-research-and-support/steve-fleming/

 

Virus host interactions, in particular accessory factors that parapoxviruses encode to subvert host defence mechanisms and to modify cell physiological processes.

 

Dr. Husain Matloob

 

Department of Microbiology & immunology

Otago School of Medical Sciences

University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 470 3420

Email: matloob.husain@otago.ac.nz

Web: https://micro.otago.ac.nz/our-people/teaching-research-and-support/matloob-husain/

 

I am a Senior Lecturer in Virology. My laboratory is interested in understanding the virus-host cell interactions at molecular level. Viruses are obligate intracellular pathogens that exploit host cell machinery to complete their life cycle and cause disease. Current research in my laboratory focuses on the identification of novel host factors and signalling pathways involved in the replication and pathogenesis of influenza virus and vaccinia virus.

 Prof Andrew Mercer

 

Department of Microbiology & immunology

Otago School of Medical Sciences

University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Tel: +64 3 470 7730

Email: andy.mercer@otago.ac.nz

Web: https://micro.otago.ac.nz/our-people/teaching-research-and-support/andy-mercer/

Unraveling the complex interactions between viruses and humans reveals sophisticated viral replication strategies but, importantly, it also gives unique insights into our own physiology and immune defences. Furthermore, and rather paradoxically, viruses are proving to be an exciting source of new therapeutics for the treatment of a wide range of human diseases. The large complex poxvirus, orf virus, causes severe skin lesions that, remarkably, heal without scarring. Our studies have revealed that this virus expresses an astonishing array of novel proteins that may explain this phenomenon. Some of these viral proteins are secreted from infected cells and dampen inflammation or increase blood supply to infected tissue, while others work within infected cells to protect the virus from our defences. Our goal is to develop these orf viral proteins as new therapeutics for the treatment of acute and chronic human conditions including skin wounds, cancer, inflammatory disorders and chronic viral infection.The success of poxviruses such as orf virus is critically linked to their expression of multiple factors that manipulate host responses to infection. Orf virus encodes a unique repertoire of such factors. The potential for pathogen - encoded analogs of cellular factors to provide new therapeutics is now well recognised and our work is contributing to this growing field, with potential benefits to a wide range of human diseases and conditions.