Biotechnology & Translational Research

All biomedical science is pursued with the goal of translating laboratory discoveries towards the enhancement of human health, perhaps as diagnostics or preventive or curative therapeutics. With perturbations of the cell – the basic unit of life – at the heart of all human diseases, many of the major advances in medicine, such as treatments for atherosclerosis and diabetes, have stemmed from fundamental observations made by cell biologists.

Advances take years to become clinically relevant. Current translational stage projects in the Department of Cell Biology include Judy White’s discovery of basic molecular aspects of virus entry into cells that has led to an NIH collaboration to repurpose FDA approved drugs for the treatment of emerging viral infections including Ebola. John Herr’s work on the molecular profile of sperm and egg surfaces has led to diagnostics for male infertility, potential novel contraceptives and a molecular targeting approach for ovarian cancer. Gordon Laurie’s discovery of basic cell biological aspects of the eye is leading to a novel treatment for dry eye syndromes. Curiosity driven Departmental research is laying the foundation for emerging health technologies.

Further, the Department is actively educating the next generation of translational scientists. It does so through the NIGMS funded Biotechnology Training Program, hosted by the Department and directed by Gordon Laurie, and through The Essentials of Translational Sciences course (directed by John Herr) with faculty involvement from the Darden School of Business, UVa Licensing and Ventures and from the Virginia Center for Translational and Regulatory Sciences.

Faculty:

John Herr

Herr, John C.

Spermatogenesis and oogenesis; fertilization; cancer-testis and cancer-oocyte neoantigens.


Gordon Laurie

Laurie, Gordon W.

Role of Prosecretory Mitogen 'Lacritin' in Epithelial Homeostasis, Secretion and Innate Defense


Judith White

White, Judith M.

Virus Entry into Cells: Mechanisms and Development of Anti-Viral Therapeutics