Princeton University's annual research magazine, Discovery: Research at Princeton, has featured the Ploss Lab's ongoing COVID research. The article states:
To make SARS-CoV-2 safer for handling in the laboratory, Alexander Ploss, associate professor of molecular biology, and his team are developing a less virulent version of the virus. The strain, developed by reverse engineering the virus, lacks components needed to infect cells. Researchers can use this non-infectious version to test new therapies.
To search for treatments for SARS-CoV-2 acute respiratory distress syndrome, the team collaborated with scientists at Boston University to develop new mouse models that contain human lung tissue. The Ploss lab and their collaborators in Boston are working on a vaccine against the virus modeled on a successful vaccine against yellow fever.
“In addition to these lines of experiments, we have been able to establish very productive collaborations with others at Princeton to identify components that are essential for SARS-CoV-2 entry and replication,” Ploss said.
A very warm Ploss Lab welcome to our newest undergrads! Joining our ranks are:
Daniel Beard ‘22
Mansi Totwani ‘22
Debbie Park ‘22
Maricar Almeda ‘22
Olivia Sakaguchi ‘23
Christine Ngyuen ‘23
Although the pandemic has restricted in-lab training, our new undergrads will be working on virtual projects and will participate in regular workshops with the rest of the lab, which will include research talks, journal clubs and virtual training on research techniques!... Read more about Welcome to our newest undergrads!
Not even a pandemic can stop us from celebrating the holidays in the Ploss Lab! We said goodbye to 2020 in socially distant style... from the comforts of our living rooms. Although we were apart, the virtual format gave a us chance to welcome back esteemed Ploss Lab alumni, and we even had a surprise guest appearance the fluffiest member of the Gaska-Pohl household!
Alex presented a virtual talk titled “New Insights into the mechanism of hepatitis B virus persistence” at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Alex says, “It was great to share some of the newest advances from our lab with a wonderful group of colleagues at CINJ. Hopefully, we’ll soon be able to meet again in person.”
On Dec 14th, the newly-minted Dr. Ila Nimgaonkar published her final paper as a member of the Ploss Lab, titled “Isocotoin suppresses hepatitis E virus replication through inhibition of heat shock protein 90.” In this study, the authors developed a high-throughput screening platform to identify molecules that can inhibit the life cycle of hepatitis E virus (HEV). The screen identified a compound, isocotoin, that is capable of inhibiting HEV replication by interfering with heat shock protein 90 (HSP90). These findings reveal that HSP90 is a host factor involved in the HEV viral life cycle and that molecules capable of modulating this factor could potentially be used as therapies against HEV. We thank Dr. Hahn Kim from the Princeton University Small Molecule Screening Center and Drs. Isabel Becher, Andre Mateus and Mischa Sawitski from the EMBL for being such wonderful collaborators!
On Nov 2nd-Nov 4th, grad student Emily Mesev presented a flash talk titled “Systematic analysis of cell-intrinsic innate immune antagonism by RNA viruses” at the annual Cytokines conference, which was held by the International Cytokine and Interferon Society.
This year, the conference had a special focus on virus/host interactions and the latest COVID-19 research. As emphasized by the organizers: “the pandemic underscores the importance of this meeting and our research to understand the systems biology of cytokines and interferons in human health and disease.”
Says Emily, “Even though the meeting was virtual, the Cytokine and Interferon Society still made it engaging and interactive and had a terrific line-up of speakers. I still felt like I was part of this amazing scientific community!”
Alex presented his presentation entitled, "New insights into the mechanism of hepatitis B virus persistence" at the 2020-2021 Infectious Diseases Advanced Topics Lecture Series, jointly organized by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell-New York Presbyterian Hosptial.
We’re happy to welcome Michael Schwoerer as our newest Ph.D. student in our lab! Michael will be expanding on his work from his rotation project on understanding molecular determinants of host tropism in flaviviruses. We’re excited to see all of the exciting work you will be doing in the upcoming years! Welcome to the Ploss lab, Michael!
On August 28th and 29th, Alex and Stephanie presented at the EASL International Liver Congress 2020, originally set in London. From their houses, Alex presented a lecture entitled, “Molecular virology of hepatitis E” and Stephanie presented a poster in collaboration with the Dahari Lab at Loyola University Chicago entitled, “Mathematical modeling of early hepatitis D virus kinetics in transgenic-hNTCP mice”. Alex and Stephanie had a great time learning about recent advances in hepatitis viruses as well as in hepatology.
More accurately, we should say “welcome back,” since Princeton University is Aaron’s alma mater! After completing his bachelor’s degree at Princeton (and doing research on protein-protein interactions of HSV-1), Aaron completed his Ph.D. in Virology at Harvard University in the lab of Pardis Sabeti, where he studied the evolution and host-virus interactions of Ebola virus using genomic tools.
Now that he’s back at Princeton, Aaron will do a joint postdoc, splitting his time between the Ploss lab and the Adamson lab.
Says Aaron, “I’m generally interested in how viruses and hosts co-exist and co-evolve and how this shapes molecular mechanisms and disease outcomes over time. I’m very excited to think more about host range and cross-species transmission in the Ploss Lab!”
And we’re very excited to have you join us, Aaron!