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Reducing the Impact of Infectious Diseases by Supporting Trans-Disciplinary Academic Research


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Lukas Tamm

Lukas Tamm

Lukas Tamm is the Harrison Distinguished Professor in Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics and the Director of the Center for Membrane and Cell Physiology. His lab studies virus entry into cells and bacterial antibiotic resistance using structural, biophysical, and cell biological approaches. Specifically, Dr. Tamm’s lab has solved the fusion peptide structures of the surface glycoproteins of influenza virus, HIV, and Ebola virus allowing them to uncover their involvement in viral entry into animal and human cells. The work opens opportunities to block viral infections at the level of cell entry of these membrane enveloped viruses. The lab has also solved the structures of 4 bacterial outer membrane porins, namely those of OmpA and OmpG from Escherichia coli and OprH and OprG from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. OmpA was one of the first two structures of larger membrane proteins that were ever solved by magnetic resonance spectroscopy by any research team world-wide. Its folding and function as an ion channel were extensively studied. OmpG is pursued as a target for biosensor development. The outer shell proteins OprH and OprG are studied to understand and overcome the notorious antibiotic resistance of Pseudomonas aeruginosa at the level of outer membrane transport of this serious human pathogen

Gang Tao

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Dr. Gang Tao is a professor in Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UVa. His research is mainly about dynamical systems analysis and control. Motions of dynamical systems are described by the trajectories of their state variables which satisfy certain differential equations called dynamical equations. Many engineering systems are studied as dynamical systems, such as aircraft, ships, automobiles, electric systems, robots, whose dynamics determine their behaviors under the influence of external inputs and their initial states. Many infectious diseases have been studied in terms of their dynamics, such as the dynamical behaviors of the HIV, Hepatitis B, Zika, and H1N1 viruses, whose state variables and behaviors can also be described by certain dynamical equations. System analysis studies certain characterizations and properties of dynamical systems. System control studies how to change system behaviors by applying input signals. Feedback control makes use of the system state information to generate the control signals. Feedback control is able to modify the system dynamics to achieve desired system behaviors, which has played the most important role in modern control systems. Researchers have employed feedback control techniques for medical applications, for example, using system modeling and control methods to help treating certain infectious diseases, which has made encouraging progresses. 

Dr. Gang Tao and his collaborators and students are interested in developing feedback control theory and design techniques for systems whose parameters and structures are uncertain. Such adaptive control theory and techniques have potential for application to treatment of infectious diseases whose characteristics are often uncertain.

For more information about their research, please visit

Bethany Teachman

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Dr. Teachman’s laboratory, the Program for Anxiety, Cognition, and Treatment (PACT) Lab, investigates cognitive processes that contribute to the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders and other forms of emotion dysregulation. Her lab is especially interested in how we can change thinking styles to improve emotional functioning, and how technology can be used to increase access to services. In collaboration with the Barnes and Boukhechba lab in engineering, the PACT lab uses mobile sensing to better understand how anxiety and emotion dysregulation affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in daily life, and offers technology-delivered interventions to bring services to people when and where they need them most.

Teachman lab website

Sebastian Tello-Trillo

Sebastian Tello-Trillo

Sebastian Tello-Trillo is an economist whose research focuses on how policies affect individuals’ health behaviors and economic outcomes. His areas of interest lie within Health Economics, Econometrics and Development Economics.

Tello-Trillo received his Ph.D. in Economics from Vanderbilt University and holds a B.S in Pure Mathematics and Economics from Florida State University. Prior to his studies at Vanderbilt, he was a project associate for Innovations for Poverty Action.  Tello-Trillo was born and raised in Lima, Peru.

Tania Thomas

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Tania A. Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health. Prior to joining UVA, she previously trained at Oregon Health and Sciences University and Yale University. Her research program involves the epidemiology and diagnosis of tuberculosis in endemic settings such as Tanzania, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines. Her current work focuses on host-immune responses to TB and leveraging them as diagnostic biomarkers for children and adults. She also conducts community-based contact investigation studies to increase the early detection of pediatric TB cases. Domestically, she serves as the state consultant for pediatric TB cases through the Virginia Department of Health.

Michael Timko

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Michael Timko is Professor of Biology and the Director of the Echols Scholars. Dr. Timko’s research interests are broadly instituted in understanding the molecular and biochemical processes governing host- pathogen/parasite interactions across organisms. His lab’s work involves analysis of both plant and human pathogens and seeks to not only understand the biology of the process of their interactions but to develop prophylactics to prevent or disrupt host invasion, to identify therapeutics to treat the host to support re-establishment of normal physiological states, and to understand how to prevent re-occurrence. They have worked on the development of small molecules and probiotics to treat enteric diseases and prevent illness, and they are currently working on questions related to the role of the microbiome in disease progression. Finally, they are looking at plant and microbial based therapeutics for prevention and treatment of disease and illness created by pathogen and parasite attack. Dr. Timko’s work has impact on plant health, food security, nutritional balance and human health.