Biomedical Sciences Researcher Gets $2.94 Million Federal Grant To Study Unique Features of Ebola and Marburg Viruses

Dr. Christopher Basler, professor and director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, has received a five-year, $2.94 million federal grant to study unique features of Ebola and Marburg viruses that control how the virus family expresses its genes and escapes immune responses.

“The planned work will help us understand why these viruses are able to cause severe disease and will suggest new approaches for treating these infections,” said Basler, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Microbial Pathogenesis.

Ebola virus and Marburg virus, which belong to the filovirus family, cause periodic outbreaks and severe disease in humans. The grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will fund studies that will provide new insight into interactions between filoviruses and hosts related to translation for gene expression and innate immune evasion.

Despite their importance as emerging pathogens and public health threats, many biological aspects of filoviruses remain unknown. One major knowledge gap is the function of the non-protein coding sequences in filovirus genomes, which compose nearly a quarter of the Ebola and Marburg virus genomes and have barely been studied.

Ebola and Marburg viruses are RNA viral pathogens, and it’s unclear which mechanisms are used to translate viral mRNAs to proteins and how this may be sustained when innate immune responses are activated.

View an abstract of the grant, 1R01AI148663-01A1, at the NIH’s Project ReRORTer website.

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