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In This Section
Dr. Weitzman's research program aims to understand host responses to virus infection, and the cellular environment encountered and manipulated by viruses. He studies multiple viruses in an integrated experimental approach that combines biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, and cell biology.
Dr. Weitzman's research addresses how viruses create conditions conducive to their reproduction by shaping host cell environments, particularly with regards to genome interactions. He discovered cellular antiviral defenses, and identified viral strategies to manipulate these host processes. His work addresses the dynamic interactions between viruses and host cells when their genomes are in conflict.
He investigates the interplay between viral genetic material and host defense strategies. He has used proteomic approaches to probe the interactions taking place on viral and cellular genomes during infection, and has uncovered ways that viruses manipulate chromatin and DNA damage responses as they take control of cellular processes.
The pathways illuminated are key to fighting viral infection, provide insights into fundamental processes that maintain genome instability, and have implications for developing viral vectors for gene therapy. The confrontation between viral and host genomes provides a battleground that provides lessons in genome protection, and which will help guide therapeutic strategies to fight infection and cancer.
Among his notable career highlights, Dr. Weitzman:
- Discovered that host DNA repair machinery recognizes the genomes of DNA viruses and can act as intrinsic barrier to virus infection.
- Identified the MRN complex as the mammalian sensor of DNA breaks and viral genomes in the nucleus and its role in activation of damage signaling pathways.
- Defined strategies for viruses to exploit ubiquitination to degrade key mediators of host pathways or redirect cellular processes to promote infection.
- Discovered how a core basic viral protein disrupts host nuclear architecture and gets incorporated into cellular chromatin where it retains an alarmin danger signal to affect immune responses.
- Demonstrated that the human APOBEC3A protein inhibits replication of DNA viruses and can modify the host genome, causing DNA damage and cell cycle arrest, but also presenting a vulnerability for targeting cancer cells.
Education and Training
BS, University of Leeds (Genetics), 1987
PhD, Institute of Virology & Oxford Polytechnic (Molecular Virology), 1991
Titles and Academic Titles
Co-Director, Division of Protective Immunity
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics
Professor of Microbiology
American Society for Gene and Cell Therapy
American Society for Virology
American Society for Microbiology
Young Investigator Award, American Society for Gene Therapy, 2004
Innovation Grant recipient, the Salk Institute Innovation Fund, 2008
Pioneer Developmental Chair, Salk Institute, 2008-2011
Harold S Ginsberg Lecture, America Society for Virology Annual Meeting, 2010
Foerderer Award, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 2013
CHOP Faculty Mentor Award, 2016
CHOP Award for Excellence in Mentoring Research Trainees, 2017