On December 1st, we welcomed our newest post-doc to the lab; Dr. Saori Suzuki! Saori joins the Ploss Lab with an extensive background in virology: she completed her dissertation work at Kyoto University (Japan) on the development of vaccines against hepatitis C virus, followed by postdoctoral positions at Shiga University of Medical Science (Japan) and University of Pennsylvania researching influenza and respiratory viruses. Here in the Ploss Lab, she will be investigating restriction factors in hepatitis C virus replication. Saori came to the United States recently, and she is excited to experience and learn more about American culture. We are thrilled to have you in the lab Saori, and to celebrate many American holidays together!
On November 29th, we said goodbye to Javier Cabellero Gómez, a visiting student from the University of Cordoba in Spain who was working on hepatitis E virus host tropism-related projects for three months. It was a pleasure to have Javi in the lab, who came with a lot of experience working on HEV, and who was extremely enthusiastic about all his projects. Javi impressed everyone with how quickly he picked up cell culture and biochemical techniques and with the great progress he made in three short months. We will miss you a lot Javi, and we hope to visit you soon in beautiful Southern Spain!
On November 9th, the Ploss lab threw a farewell party for Dr. Jenna Gaska; a former graduate student who has accepted a position as a medical writer at Nucleus Global! We celebrated Jenna’s success and tenure in the Ploss Lab with Jenna-themed trivia, many gifts, delicious food, and piano sing-alongs.
We will greatly miss Jenna; a talented scientist who was always willing to help others in the lab, made everyone laugh with her delightful sense of humor, and went out of her way to organize social events that brought the lab together. Jenna, we wish you all the best with your future endeavors!
On November 7th, Wei and Stephanie presented posters at the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research Symposium, held at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Both presented their work related to hepatitis B virus, which is a leading cause of liver cancer. Wei’s poster was titled “Identification of a Set of Factors Essential for Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) cccDNA Formation,” and Stephanie’s poster was titled “Characterizing Hepatitis B Virus Pathogenesis in Genetically Humanized Mice.” Stephanie and Wei had a wonderful time meeting other cancer researchers and sharing their work. Congratulations!
On November 1st, Ila presented her research in a poster titled “Isocotoin is a potent inhibitor of hepatitis E virus replication” at 3rd Annual Regional Academic Drug Discovery Day, held at Princeton University. This day-long event featured speakers and presenters from industry, academia, and government, who shared exciting drug discovery-related work happening in the tri-state area. Ila greatly enjoyed meeting others working on therapeutic development during the poster session, as well as the excellent talks.
Congratulations to Jenna on her latest publication titled “Conservation of cell-intrinsic immune responses in diverse nonhuman primate species,” published in Life Science Alliance! In this study, Jenna analyzed innate immune responses in fibroblasts derived from a broad panel of nonhuman primate species including five Great Ape, three Old World monkey, and one New World monkey species. It is the broadest panel of nonhuman primate species analyzed for cell intrinsic immune responses to date, and it provides a useful reference for future studies understanding differences in immune responses across species.
Congratulations to Emily Mesev, who presented a poster titled “Examining the dynamics of type I interferon-mediated JAK-STAT signaling within the innate immune response” at Cytokines 2019! The conference, held by the International Cytokine and Interferon Society, was held in Vienna, Austria.
Says Emily, “the conference was a great way to meet more scientists studying the complexities of cytokine and interferon signaling, and some of the talks really challenged what has been taken for granted in this field. Plus, Vienna was a beautiful place to explore!”
Alex was jet-setting once again to share our newest work at conferences in Australia and South Korea! His first stop was Melbourne, where he presented talks at two associated conferences: a talk titled “The molecular biology of hepatitis B viruses” at the ICE-HBV In-Vivo Models Workshop on October 1st, and a talk titled “Mouse models based on stem cell-derived hepatocytes” at the 2019 International HBV Meeting (October 1st-5th).
Alex then delivered the Keynote Lecture, titled “Beyond Hepatitis C Virus: Novel Insights into Acute and Chronic Hepatitis Virus Infections,” at the 26th International Symposium on Hepatitis C virus and Related Viruses in Seoul, South Korea on October 7th. Says Alex, "“It was a great pleasure and honor to present our labs’ work at this year’s HCV meeting. The meeting was superbly organized and it was fun to connect with old and new colleagues."
Congratulations are in order for Dr. Lei Wei, who won the highly coveted “Best Talk by Postdoctoral Researcher” prize at the Princeton University Annual Molecular Biology Departmental Retreat this year! His talk, which had the riveting title “Making a murderer – Formation of hepatitis B virus cccDNA”, featured his recent work identifying host factors necessary for the formation of HBV cccDNA.
Congratulations also to Ila, who presented a poster on her work titled “Isocotoin Potently Inhibits Hepatitis E Virus Replication through Interference with Heat Shock Protein 90”!
The retreat was held in the beachside town of Avalon, New Jersey, and the whole lab enjoyed learning about the science happening in our department. We thank the Princeton University Molecular Biology Department, in particular Terry MacFarland, for organizing this consistently wonderful event every year.
Alex has been busy this month promoting the Ploss Lab’s work far and wide! On September 13th, he gave two talks in Japan: the first titled “Deciphering host range restrictions of human viral pathogens” at the 18th Awaji International Forum on Infection and Immunity in Awaji Island, and the second titled “New insights into hepatitis E virus” at the Institute for Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Osaka.