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


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Cirle Warren

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Cirle A. Warren is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health of the School of Medicine. As a physician scientist, her research focuses on the pathogenesis of and development of novel interventions for enteric infections. She has recently identified potential new treatments for Clostridium difficile infection, which is often worsened, not cured, when antibiotics are administered. Dr. Warren is investigating the mechanisms underlying the worse disease presentation in the elderly compared with younger individuals. She is involved in mentoring UVA undergraduates, medical students, residents, and fellows, providing laboratory, clinical or international research experience, as needed. She has also trained international research fellows from Brazil, the Philippines, Ghana, South Africa and Peru. She has collaborations with scientists, clinicians and developmental workers from private, academic or non-governmental institutions in Brazil, Costa Rica and the Philippines. She is currently involved in the development and promotion of Southeast Asian Studies at the University.

Judith White

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Judith White is a Professor in the Department of Cell Biology. Dr. White’s laboratory has studied enveloped virus entry into cells for over 30 years. They have helped unravel this process—a key target for anti-viral intervention—in the cases of influenza virus and a model retrovirus. Since 2006, Dr. White’s group has been working on the entry process of Ebola virus (EBOV) and more recently, Lassa fever Virus (LASV). Both are listed as category A priority pathogens by the NIH, and both are listed by the WHO as “top emerging diseases likely to cause major epidemics” based on a meeting of experts held in Dec. of 2015. EBOV is notorious for causing the devastating outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) that occurred in West Africa in 2014-2015. Although only rough, the estimated number of LASV infections per year (also in West Africa) is 100,000 to 300,000 with 5,000 deaths/year (CDC website). It is further estimated that between 10% and 16% of patients admitted to hospitals in certain areas of Sierra Leone and Liberia are infected with LASV. At this time there are no approved vaccines or therapeutics for either viral disease. Dr. White’s laboratory is conducting both basic and translational research on EBOV and LASV, by probing mechanistic aspects of virus entry as well as participating in drug discovery efforts aimed at finding “practical” drugs to use as prophylactics and/or therapeutics for patients (and their contacts) stricken with either EVD or Lassa Virus Disease (LVD). “Practical” drugs are relatively low cost to develop, manufacture, deliver, and administer in resource-limited areas as in West Africa. Given the overlapping geographic distribution of EVD and LVD, their similar presenting symptoms, as well as similarities in the entry processes and replication strategies of EBOV and LASV, an over-arching goal is to identify a drug (combination) efficacious against both EBOV and LASV.

Andy Wicks

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Andrew C. Wicks is the Ruffin Professor of Business Administration at Darden. He is director of the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, director of the doctoral program and academic advisor for the Business Roundtable Institute for Corporate Ethics. Wicks also serves as an adjunct professor in the Religious Studies department and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at UVA. He will contribute expertise to the Institute in research areas including health care ethics, stakeholder responsibility, stakeholder theory, trust, total quality management, and ethics and entrepreneurship. He works with MBA students, executives and corporations in the United States and abroad. Wicks is actively working with Ethics-LX, an entrepreneurial venture, to create a series of web-based simulations that incorporate ethics into the functional areas of business. He has authored four books and over 30 journal articles, and he has received awards for both his research and teaching.

Michael Wiener

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Michael Wiener is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, School of Medicine. His research has focused upon structure/function studies of two membrane protein systems highly germane to infectious disease, primarily using x-ray crystallography. One is an active transport system responsible for uptake of large and/or scarce nutrients, particularly iron-containing molecules, across the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. The other is the human membrane-bound protease ZMPSTE24, which was very recently determined to have an additional non-enzymatic role as a broad-spectrum viral restriction factor, effective against multiple enveloped endocytosed viruses. The Wiener lab determined the novel structure of ZMPSTE24 and is characterizing its fascinating kinetics. His lab is conducting viral fusion studies with purified ZMPSTE24 to understand its molecular basis of antiviral function. Both the bacterial transport system and ZMPSTE24 are potential targets for therapeutics to treat prominent bacterial and viral infections.

Michael Williams

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Michael D. Williams joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 2012, where he is an Associate Professor of Surgery and Director, Emergency General Surgery in the Department of Surgery and Director of the UVA Center for Health Policy, a joint program of the Batten School, the School of Medicine and the Department of Public Health Sciences. The Center for Health Policy provides comprehensive, apolitical analysis of current and proposed health policy for citizens and policymakers. He is also Lead Physician for Transitions Care for Well Virginia, UVA’s Accountable Care Organization. He has served as the Director of the UVA Summer Medical and Dental Education Program, which was established by a major grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program aims to help under-represented minority students become more competitive candidates for medical school. Dr. Williams has held numerous leadership positions in both clinical and academic medicine, and has many peer-reviewed publications to his credit. He passionately believes in the importance of patient-centered innovation in the application and management of health systems. His over 20 years of experience in health care delivery and systems design has led him to the conclusion that Health Equity starts with efficient, cost-effective health system design and management. Dr. Williams has a strong interest and background in Population Health, and sees this as the greatest opportunity to achieve health equity, both in the United States and globally. He serves on the Board of Directors for Healthcare Global, LLC, a non-profit committed to improving communities through improving health globally.

Martin Wu

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Martin Wu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology in the College of Arts & Sciences. He has a broad background and training in microbial genomics, metagenomics and large-scale sequence data analysis. Using high throughput 16s rRNA sequencing and applying microbial evolution and ecology theory, Wu’s laboratory has been investigating how microbes as a community respond to host and environmental changes. Of particular relevance to the Institute in Global Infectious Disease is his expertise in the field of human microbiome.