I am virologist and immunologist and with a strong career focus on RNA Viruses. I will bring to the project more than 35 years of experience with the Coronaviruses including the feline, FIP Virus, Mouse hepatitis virus, and most recently SARS CoV. I have coauthored more than 65 papers on the members of the Coronavirus family, and have made a number of seminal observations including the first demonstration of the location of the receptor binding and membrane fusion domains to the N-terminal and C-terminal halves of the S1-2 open reading frame, the first demonstration of the hypervariable domain localized in the N-terminal S1 domain, and the first detailed cryo-EM structures of the MHV, SARS, and FIP viruses. I have brought the SARS model to me following my move from San Diego to UC Irvine, and we have continued our exploration of the details of the replication of SARS-CoV with studies of the viral subversion of membrane synthesis and assembly to direct the synthesis of double membrane vesicles in infected cells. These vesicles serve as sequestered "factories" where viral macromolecular synthesis is able to take place unimpeded by cellular defenses.
I have also gained extensive experience with in vivo models of the viral infection in the CNS and periphery following MHV and SARS infections. The CNS model which we established with Mab resistant variants of the virus forms the basis a model of virally induced demyelination that informs investigators about the details of white matter damage and repair resembling features of MS.
My colleagues and I held a contract and ROI support at my former institution, The Scripps Research Institute, during the period after the appearance of SARS CoV, and my group published more than 20 papers on the structural and cell biology of the SARS virus. That information will be of value in pursuing the detailed examination of COVID-19. These viruses are, after all close relatives, sharing a major branch of the Coronaviridae. Among the resources we have available are molecular clones of the entire genome of SARS CoV in both mammalian expression and BAC vectors. This collection, totaling more than 200 constructs will allow direct one to one comparisons of the similar regions of the two viruses, and will help us to expedite the necessary cloning to produce parallel reagents for COVID-19.