Bernard Roizman

The University of Chicago


Election Year: 1979
Primary Section: 44, Microbial Biology
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My research encompasses broad aspects of the biology of herpes viruses, from the molecular biology of the viruses to their application as therapeutic agents in cancer. My interests for the past 30 years centered on the molecular biology of herpes simplex viruses and application of our discoveries to specific problems related to human health. The studies done in my laboratory included (a) the unraveling of the general plan for the regulation of viral gene expression, including the discovery of a virion protein (alphaTIF or VP16) which transactivates viral genes after infection; (b) the arrangement of unique and repeated elements in the viral genome including the evidence for the existence of four genomic isoforms; (c) the discovery of viral DNA polymorphism and the application of this phenomenon to trace transmission from person to person (coined the term molecular epidemiology); (d) the development of the technique for site specific gene insertion/deletion in large viral genomes; (e) the construction of attenuated viruses for prophylactic and therapeutic use; (f) the discovery of the function of several genes including, most recently, that of a gene which blocks the induction of the interferon pathway, etc. Current research centers on viral gene functions and on the biochemical interaction of viral and cellular proteins. The objective of these studies is to elucidate the mechanisms by which a biological entity carrying a few dozen genes can so thoroughly subvert human cells encoding approximately 70,000 genes.

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