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Articles Tagged with retrovirus

Researching Retrovirals

An interview with Marc Johnson, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Marc Johnson began his research career studying a rabies-like virus in fish. “Working with fish viruses is really cool research,” he notes, but there are just not a lot of people doing it,” and that sense of isolation was eventually too much. In search of collaboration and community, Johnson switched from fish viruses to HIV. Since then, the assistant professor in MU’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology has dedicated his research efforts to the study of these related humans viruses. He and his collaborators have made great progress in understanding how the HIV virus works in order to develop new therapeutics to combat the disease.

Audio and Video Tagged with retrovirus

Getting Started

From an interview with Marc Johnson, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Johnson explains his love for science, his passion for microbiology, and how all that led him to the study of retroviruses. “Working with fish viruses is really cool research,” he notes, but there are just not a lot of people in this area, and that sense of isolation was eventually too much: “I missed having people with whom to interact, so I went to the absolute opposite—HIV.”

Defining “Retrovirus”

From an interview with Marc Johnson, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Although the word “virus” has become a part of the everyday vernacular–what exactly is a retrovirus? Marc Johnson says viruses can be grouped into RNA viruses and DNA viruses. RNA viruses cause short-term diseases such as the flu and the common cold, whereas DNA viruses cause more long-term illnesses like herpes or cancer. “Retroviruses are a unique blend,” he explains. “They are like a DNA virus that can replicate with RNA strategies.” HIV is a retrovirus.

Applying HIV Research

From an interview with Marc Johnson, Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology

Johnson’s lab research is largely concentrated on the study of the HIV retrovirus. He says his work can be used on three levels. First, he hopes that by learning how the HIV virus works, he will be able to develop new drugs to treat and cure the disease. Second, he hopes that a thorough understanding of the virus will lead to the development of further gene therapy. Third, he hopes that an understanding of virus structure in general will lead to a better understanding of how human cells work. “Just about everything we know about modern molecular biology came from studying viruses,” Johnson says.