Balla Group: Organismal Infection Biology

Molecular and computational approaches to discover and domesticate viruses in zebrafish.

These viruses provide new opportunities for investigating the evolution and function of the vertebrate immune system across multiple scales of organization. The relatively small size of zebrafish provides an opportunity to dissect antiviral activities in all cell types at once. Our group is working to integrate multiple single-cell modalities (sequencing, imaging, etc.) with infected zebrafish to comprehensively chart the genetic and cellular networks that process and produce antiviral immunity in vertebrates.

Our Research


Virus discovery and deployment in zebrafish

We discover and develop zebrafish viruses as unique tools to capture dialogs between viruses and the immune system with visual and molecular precision. Our goal is to provide a full account of infection from the moment a virus invades a cell and onwards through all courses that lead to organismal health or disease.

Behavioral landscapes of viruses and immunity

We are registering the entire cast of immune cells in zebrafish and creating labeled viruses to image infection dynamics animal-wide. We are moving from maps to motion to generate new holistic models of the vertebrate antiviral immune system in action.