Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology

Molecular Virology and Microbiology News



Nov. 24 - Drs. Joseph Petrosino and Anthony Maresso discussed bacterial pathogens and phage therapy in a segment during Dr. Paul Klotman's weekly video.

Nov. 9 - Drs. Sarah Blutt and Mary EstesCarolyn Bomidi and colleagues reported the results of a study using a single-cell analytical approach that revealed how the intestinal epithelium heals itself after infection with rotavirus in an animal model.

Oct. 19 - Dr. Joseph Petrosino has been appointed to the newly created position of Chief Scientific Innovation Officer.

Oct. 19 - Dr. Indira Mysorekar and colleagues have discovered a potential new strategy to combat urinary tract infections.

Oct. 5 - Dr. Hana El Sahly was honored with a 2021 Michael E. DeBakey M.D. Award for Excellence in Research. She has served as a leader of clinical trials testing vaccines and treatments for SARS-Co-V-2 and other viruses.

Sept. 29 - Dr. Pedro Piedra recommended the vaccine as the best way to manage the flu during the pandemic. 

Sept. 28 - A study by Dr. Lynn Zechiedrich and colleagues showed how dynamic twists and loops can enable DNA to modulate its function.

Sept. 21 - Drs. Pedro Piedra and Hana El Sahly expressed concern about an intense flu season looming in 2021 in a story in the Houston Chronicle.

Sept. 21 - Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi was recognized as an 'Outstanding Woman' by the Commission for Women, Children, Youth and Family of the Central American Parliament within the framework of the Forum of Women of Political Parties of Honduras. 

Sept. 10 - Dr. Buck Samuel and collaborators were awarded a $2 million NASA Thrive In DEep Space (TIDES) grant. The grant will test the impact of the gut microbiome on the integrative physiology of genetically diverse invertebrates using both ground-based and International Space Station studies. 

Sept. 9 - Dr. Flor Munoz discussed babies and COVID in an interview with NPR.

Sept. 9 - Dr. Paul Ling was mentioned in a story about saving elephants from the elephant herpesvirus.

Sept. 8 - Dr. Hana El Sahly commented on the COVID Mu variant in an article in the Houston Chronicle.

Sept. 2 - In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Dr. Catherine Troisi answered questions about the COVID pandemic and the Delta variant.

Aug. 20 - Dr. Jennifer Whitaker and colleagues are recruiting participants for a second-generation booster COVID-19 vaccine trial to test investigational COVID-19 vaccines developed by Gritstone bio, Inc.

Aug. 3 - An image from the laboratory of Dr. Pedro Piedra showing immunofluorescence staining of human airway organoids infected with SARS CoV-2 was selected as the Image of the Month.

July 29 - A multidisciplinary team of researchers, including Drs. Maria Elena Bottazzi and Peter Hotez, is the first to show that combining yeast-expression technology and a novel adjuvant formulation produces a COVID-19 vaccine candidate that is effective against SARS-COV-2.

July 22 - Drs. B.V. Venkataram PrasadMary Estes and collaborators have isolated naturally occurring antibodies that recognized and neutralized many different norovirus variants. Information from this study could lead to new vaccine candidates and treatments for norovirus infection.

July 20Dr. Peter Hotez was quoted in a Houston Chronicle article about the fourth COVID-19 wave on the horizon.

July 9Dr. Joseph Petrosino commented in a Houston Chronicle article about transmission of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

June 22 - Dr. Robert Atmar was interviewed by CBS national news about the COVID vaccine booster trial that is underway. 

June 11 - The new Organoid Core Lab of Drs. Mary Estes and Sarah Blutt was featured in Dr. Paul Klotman's weekly video

June 10 - Drs. Robert Britton, Anthony Maresso, and Katherine Lemon received a $12 million grant from the NIH to identify non-antibiotic strategies to prevent and treat bacterial infections 

May 29 Dr. Jennifer Whitaker is the principal investigator of the Baylor site of a multicenter Phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response for different doses of Gritstone Oncology's COVID-19 vaccine candidate. This second-generation trial has been designed with the goal of providing protection against emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.

May 13 - Baylor College of Medicine will serve as the lead site of the new Texas Development Center for AIDS Research (D-CFAR). Funded through a grant from the NIH, D-CFAR is a collaboration of Baylor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio. Dr. Andrew Rice is the co-director for Baylor and the director of the D-CFAR Developmental Core.

April 26Biological E. Limited to begin Phase III clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by a team co-led by Drs. Maria Elena Bottazzi and Peter Hotez

March 30 - An article in "From the "Labs" describes the work of a group led by Dr. Anthony Maresso in using phages to prevent infection before it happen.

March 23 - Drs. Peter HotezPedro PiedraRobert Atmar and Hana El Sahly were among a panel of experts that answered questions and provided reflections on a year of COVID-19.

Three MVM faculty members, Drs. Hana El SahlyJoseph Petrosino, and Mary Estes were ranked in the top 20 of NIH-funded investigators at Baylor based on award amounts for 2020.

March 8 - Dr. Robert Atmar commented on the more contagious COVID variant spreading in Houston for local media.

Feb. 11 - Dr. Hana El Sahly provided advice on what you need to know after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Feb. 9 Dr. Anthony Maresso and colleagues have identified a novel strategy using phage to anticipate the location of bacteria providing a mechanism to eliminate bacteria prior to infection.

Feb. 4 - Drs. Pedro A. PiedraBrian GilbertLynn Zechiedrich, and colleagues have reported that the duration of the antibody response varies in adults with RSV.

Feb. 1 - Dr. Kristen Engevik, postdoctoral associate in Dr. Joseph Hyser’s lab, was the winner of the American Journal of Physiology “Cell-ebrating HeLa” competition with this image of immunofluorescent HeLa cells

Jan. 15 - The Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit has been selected to participate in the Phase 3 clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine candidateDr. Jennifer Whitaker is a co-principal investigator of the Baylor site.

Jan. 7 Dr. Joseph Petrosino discussed the implications for Houston of the more contagious COVID-19 strain, originally detected in the United Kingdom, in an article in the Houston Chronicle.


Dec. 24 - In a podcast, Dr. Hana El Sahly, a lead investigator for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine phase 3 trial, explains the COVID-19 RNA vaccines, including how they work, the differences between the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and why wearing masks is still necessary.

Dec. 14 - Dr. Pedro Piedra commented on an antibody test survey conducted by Baylor, in partnership with the Houston Health Department, Rice University, and the CDC, showing that the number of Houstonians who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus could be four times higher than previously reported.

Dec. 8 - Dr. Joseph Hyser and colleagues discovered aberrant calcium dynamics in both infected and uninfected cells, explaining how a few rotavirus can cause severe gastrointestinal disease.

Dec. 3 The career and research of Dr. Pedro A. Piedra were highlighted in an interview as part of the BCM Hispanic Heritage Spotlight series.

Nov. 16 - Dr. Hana El Sahly, a leader of the phase 3 trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, was interviewed by multiple media outlets, including NBC News and the Houston Chronicle.

Oct. 6Dr. Susan Rosenberg was awarded the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award, her second time winning the prestigious honor. 

Sept. 24 - Dr. Anthony Maresso and colleagues, in partnership with the Houston Health Department and Rice University, have determined that testing Houston’s wastewater for SARS-CoV2 provides a means to predict an outbreak.

Sept. 22 - A study by Dr. Mary Estes and colleagues showed that not all human norovirus strains are created equal in their sensitivity to interferon.

Sept. 18 - Dr. Sarah Blutt and her group were one of two Baylor teams among five selected by the Translational Research Institute for Space Health to receive funding for their project entitled "Use of Microbial Based Countermeasures to Mitigate Radiation Induced Intestinal Damage."

Sept. 3 - Dr. Pedro Piedra discussed the start of a COVID-19 antibody survey to determine the prevalence of people who have been infected with the virus in Houston with local media.

Sept. 2 - A pair of articles (and here) in the Houston Chronicle describes the work Dr. Anthony Maresso and others in analyzing Houston wastewater to detect COVID-19 hot spots.

The Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at BCM, headed by Dr. Hana El Sahly, was one of approximately 90 sites selected to participate in the Phase 3 clinical trial for Moderna’s investigational mRNA-1273 vaccine to evaluate the efficacy of the vaccine at preventing COVID-19 disease. Dr. El Sahly also serves as a national co-principal investigator of the trial.

Aug. 11 - Dr. Paul Ling’s research on Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus was featured in an article about the death of African elephants at the Indianapolis Zoo.

July, 7 - In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Dr. Joseph Petrosino provided insight into what a potentially more contagious strain of COVID-19 means for the Houston area.

July 2, 2020 - Dr. Lynn Zechiedrich was featured in a United Nations Foundation music video in support of its COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization.

A study of a slow-growing rotavirus mutant by Dr. Mary Estes and colleagues revealed early steps of viral assembly.

April 28 - Development of a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 is underway, co-led by Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi and Dr. Peter Hotez, building on their experience gained through work on a SARS vaccine.

April 23 - A team led by the labs of Dr. B. V. Venkataram Prasad and Dr. Mary K. Estes determined the structure of the rotavirus VP3 protein, revealing that VP3 is a unique capping machine.

Dr. Lynn Zechiedrich was honored on Faculty Awards Day as a 2020 recipient of the Barbara and Corbin J. Robertson Jr. Presidential Award for Excellence in Education.

Dr. Andrew Rice was awarded one of nine grants from BCM and the University of Houston, as part of a pilot program resulting from a 2019 Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions for a project called “Discovery of pharmacological modulators for NEAT1 IncRNA and reactivation of latent HIV-1.”, along with UH collaborator Dr. Qin Feng.

Dr. Buck Samuel served as an International Teaching Program Fellow at Tel Aviv University, teaching a course on the Microbiome in Health and Disease.

Viral gastroenteritis around the world causes 200,000 deaths globally each year. Mary Estes talks about her work on two gastroenteritis-causing viruses, rotavirus and norovirus, and tells the story of her discovery of the first viral enterotoxin. She also describes how noroviruses have changed from human volunteer studies to studies using “miniguts,” a system now used with many enteropathogenic microorganisms.

Dr. Paul Ling discusses his research on Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus in a video episode of the International Elephant Foundation’s “Ask a Conservationist” series.

In a podcast episode of Pachy Chat, Dr. Paul Ling discusses his research on Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus. 

Jan. 28 - Dr. Mary Estes and colleagues describe findings that shed light on the role of bile acids in stimulating norovirus infection.

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