Positions

Professor
Biochemistry
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States
Primary Appointment
Alvin Romansky Chair in Biochemistry
Biochemistry
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States
Professor
Virology
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States
Secondary Appointment

Education

Advanced Training from University Of Arizona
Advanced Training from Indian Institute Of Science
Ph.D. from Indian Institute Of Science
M.S. from Indian Institute Of Technology
B.Sc. (Hon.) from Bangalore University

Honors & Awards

Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiologists
Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiologists
NIAID MERIT Award
The MERIT award is given to investigators who have demonstrated superior competence and outstanding productivity in their research
Ruth McLean Bowman Bowers Excellence in Research Award
Ruth McLean Bowman Bowers Excellence in Research Award
Alvin Romansky Professor and Chair of Biochemistry
Indo-US Professorship for the American Society of Microbiology
NIH MERIT award
Indian National Science Academy Medal for Young Scientists

Professional Interests

  • Protein Structure-Function and Protein Folding
  • Virology, biochemistry, immunology and cell biology of viral and microbial pathogen
  • Glycobiology of pathogen-host interactions
  • Host-pathogen coevolution
  • Cellular Antiviral Responses
  • Antiviral Drug Discovery/Design, and Vaccine Strategies
  • Quantitative and Computational Biosciences

Professional Statement

Main focus of our research program, largely funded by NIH and Welch foundation, is to understand structure-function relationships in medically important viruses with a clear emphasis on using this knowledge to develop/design effective antiviral drugs. Our structure-function studies are mainly focused on three human pathogens: Rotaviruses, which are major pathogens of infantile gastroenteritis; Noroviruses in Caliciviridae (NIAD priority B biodefense pathogen), which cause epidemic diarrhea in humans; and influenza viruses (NIAD priority C biodefense pathogen), which cause seasonal and pandemic flu.

Our approach is to use a variety of structural techniques including cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography along with various biochemical and cell biology techniques to elucidate structure-function relationships in these human pathogens. In addition to understanding the structural basis for the capsid-related activities such as how viruses gain entry into host cells, how they interact with receptors, how they evade immune surveillance, and how they disassemble, we also focus on understanding the molecular processes by which these viruses successfully replicate once inside the host cells. The latter processes, which include genome transcription, viral protein synthesis, genome replication and encapsidation, and finally assembly of the new virions, are controlled by exquisite interplay between virus-encoded non-structural proteins some of which have fascinating enzymatic activities. Although these processes vary from one virus to another they are conserved between various strains in each virus family, thus making them suitable targets for designing and developing effective antiviral strategies.

One of the fascinating aspects of virus replication is how these viruses counteract antiviral response mounted by the host cells, for example, interferon response. Each virus appears to specially designate a viral protein to antagonize the host immune response. In rotavirus it is the non-structural protein NSP1 and in influenza virus it is NS1. During this process, these viral proteins target critical cellular pathways by interacting with various cellular proteins. Thus our research on understanding the molecular basis of such a process provides an excellent opportunity to interface with cell biology.

Selected Publications

Memberships

American Crystallographic Association
American Society of Virology
Biophysical Society of America
American Society of Microbiology