Herbert “Skip” Virgin, M.D., Ph.D., is Chief Medical Officer and Head of the Altos Institute of Medicine. He received A.B., M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University/Medical School and trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and infectious diseases at Barnes Hospital. He received his PhD for work in bacterial immunity and did his postdoctoral work in viral genetics and pathogenesis. Dr. Virgin’s laboratory defined mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and immunity in vivo. They identified the role and mechanisms of several RNA and DNA virus immune evasion molecules, and studied immune effector mechanisms including ISG15, interferon-gamma, interferon-lambda, interferon-alpha, cGAS and autophagy genes. Pathogen discovery efforts led to the discovery of the first murine norovirus, the first culture of a norovirus and the demonstration that virus infection can trigger novel disease-like pathologies in mice carrying mutations in human disease-susceptibility genes. They linked the human virome to enteropathy in AIDS, inflammatory bowel diseases, and risk for the development of type 1 diabetes in at-risk children. While Chief Scientific Officer at Vir Biotechnology from 2018-2022, Dr. Virgin directed the discovery of the approved monoclonal antibody sotrovimab for treatment of COVID-19 in at-risk persons.

Research Interests

We seek to understand the interactions between virus and host in molecular and immunologic terms, how these interactions are disrupted during disease and how the mechanisms involved may be targeted therapeutically. We focus on host pathways that are important for human disease susceptibility such as autophagy and interferon responses. Our primary interest is in chronic virus infection and the virome, but we also study acute virus infection, bacteria, helminths, apicomplexan pathogens and commensals as needed to define mechanisms of immunity. We use genetic, computational, sequencing, and structural approaches to test hypotheses. The nature of this type of research is highly collaborative as we frequently require the expertise of our colleagues to get to the bottom of a scientific question.

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Primary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology

Secondary Section

Section 43: Immunology and Inflammation