Of all health dangers, the impact of infectious diseases easily dwarfs any other natural or man-made catastrophes. The most deadly and debilitating diseases known to humankind are due to virus infections, including 10 to 15 percent of all cancers. Besides their devastating impact on public and global health, viruses such as influenza, HIV, hepatitis C and human papillomavirus also lead to billions of dollars in direct economic and indirect societal costs each year.
Viruses are part of all earth’s ecosystems and infect all kinds of organisms, from plants and insects to fish and mammals, and even single cell life forms like bacteria. Unlike other microbes and higher life forms, viruses are entirely dependent on the molecular machinery of their infected hosts. The Morgridge Institute for Research Virology Team uses multiple approaches to accelerate understanding of virus replication and interactions between viruses and host cells, a critical foundation to effectively prevent, diagnose, and treat virus-associated disease, including cancer.
Paul Ahlquist, Director
The Virology Research Theme at the Morgridge Institute is directed by Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and National Academy of Sciences member Paul Ahlquist. In his capacity as a UW-Madison professor, Paul holds positions at the University’s Department of Oncology at the School of Medicine and Public Health, the Institute for Molecular Virology in the Graduate School, and the Department of Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Paul’s specific expertise is in investigation of biomolecular mechanisms of viral replication and virus-host interactions.
“We will build on important strengths of the UW-Madison campus to further the understanding and control of viruses that cause acute, chronic and latent infections that lead to devastating diseases such as cancer, hepatitis, AIDS and influenza.”
Ming Yuan, Senior Investigator
Ming Yuan is a Morgridge Institute for Research Senior Investigator with a joint appointment as Professor in the UW-Madison Department of Statistics. Ming’s expertise is in identifying meaningful information, patterns, and new promising research leads from the analysis and integration of high-dimensional, highly unstructured data derived from multiple different sources such as clinical trials, genetic sequencing, and various other research experiments.
“Data is so unstructured and there is so much out there — we need to have the precise biological questions defined first. This is exactly what I signed up for when I came here. This is a very exciting kind of interdisciplinary environment.”
Anthony Gitter, Investigator
Anthony Gitter is a Morgridge Institute for Research Investigator and UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics. Tony studies the interconnected relationships in biological networks – how multiple genes or molecular pathways work together in living systems, particularly in biological processes such as disease progression.
“The answer for me is the same as it is for the wet lab scientists working on disease: We want to find the next potential targets and learn something new about the system. We are contributing to the knowledge of what’s really happening with those diseases that will inform new therapies.”