Jon Suzich was recently awarded an NIH F30, an Individual Predoctoral Fellowship for MD/PhD students from the National Eye Institute (NEI),beginning on 7/1/19.
Jon is a Microbiology degree candidate in lab of Dr. Anna Cliffe. The focus of his dissertation work is to understand the mechanism by which Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) establishes and maintains latent infection in peripheral neurons. Infection with HSV-1 leads to recurrent oral or genital sores, as well as more severe disease, including encephalitis, keratitis, and neonatal herpes. He is proposing to study the role of specific cellular heterochromatin-associated proteins and nuclear bodies in the establishment and maintenance of HSV-1 latency. He has hypothesized that promyelocytic leukemia-nuclear bodies (PML-NBs) and the Alpha Thalassemia/Mental Retardation Syndrome X-Linked (ATRX) protein, in particular, play an essential role in promoting latency. He anticipates that these studies will lead to a greater understanding of the mechanism of HSV latency, in addition to highlighting neuronal specific anti-viral immune responses and epigenetic regulation. In the long-term, this work will give important insights for the treatment of latent HSV-1 infection.