When a virus infects an animal cell, including a human cell, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) matching viral sequence is found in the cell. Viral dsRNA is recognized as foreign and an immune response is mounted. Viruses were once thought to be the sole source of long dsRNA, but our laboratory has identified numerous long dsRNAs that naturally exist in living cells. We are interested in the poorly understood functions of cellular dsRNA, and further, how cells distinguish the good from the bad— the cellular dsRNA (self) from the viral dsRNA (non-self). Our laboratory uses biochemistry, molecular biology, bioinformatics, and in vivo studies in C. elegans and mammalian cells, to gain insight into these questions. Our recent studies show that the dsRNA binding proteins Dicer and ADAR are both important for discriminating between viral and cellular dsRNA.

Awards and Achievements

  • National Academy of Sciences (member)
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences (member)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow)