Ralph Baric is a virologist who has studied the factors that regulate virus cross species transmission, replication, and pathogenesis, using coronaviruses, noroviruses and flaviviruses as models. His group pioneered new strategies for genetically manipulating emerging coronavirus and flavivirus genomes and studying the role of multiple viral genes that function in cross species transmission, virulence, pathogenesis, replication, and RNA fidelity. His group has used novel mouse models to map host susceptibility loci, genes and alleles that regulate coronavirus pathogenesis and immunity, and his group has developed many countermeasures used to treat or control emerging coronavirus infections. Baric was born in Wilmington, Delaware and grew up in Penns Grove, New Jersey. He graduated from North Carolina State University, Raleigh NC with a degree in Zoology and then a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology several years later. After performing postdoctoral research at the University of Southern California, he joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1986. He is currently a Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina, a Fellow of the American Society for Microbiology, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Ralph Baric's laboratory is interested in RNA virus evolution, cross species transmission, pathogenesis, and immunity. His group primarily studies three important RNA viruses of humans: the emerging coronaviruses like SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV2 and MERS-CoV that cause severe respiratory infections, the noroviruses that cause fatal diarrhea disease in infants and children, and dengue viruses, which are the most important mosquito borne viral pathogen of humans. His group has studied the evolutionary processes and mechanisms that contribute to coronavirus emergence from zoonotic reservoirs and identified the mechanisms leading to norovirus evolution and escape from human herd immunity. Another common research theme is to identify host susceptibility genes that regulate viral pathogenesis. Using human studies and recombinant inbred mouse models, his group has mapped host polygenic traits and genes that regulate emerging coronavirus and norovirus susceptibility and pathogenesis in mammals. A third major theme is to elucidate the functions of viral genes in evolution, immune evasion, and pathogenesis, informing the development of countermeasures designed to control disease severity after infection. Finally, his group has developed novel strategies to map major neutralizing epitopes in RNA viruses, informing structure-guided vaccine designs and identifying broad-based immunotherapeutics, designed to prevent or control disease severity in human populations.

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Primary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology