Our Work

Infectious Disease Initiative

Disease knows no borders

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Existing and emerging pathogens continue to threaten human health worldwide. That’s why we create and deploy systems to detect and respond to infectious diseases globally.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, infectious diseases and emerging new viruses remain a major threat to human health. Our goals are to understand virus-host interactions as a guide to developing antiviral therapeutics, to develop vaccines that can prevent infection, to preemptively identify emerging viruses, and to disseminate the technologies needed to diagnose and discover the source of microbial infections in the developing world.

These efforts are anchored by the pioneering work of CZ Biohub co-President Joe DeRisi in microbial genomes and genomic diagnostics, and by Senior Investigator Peter Kim, whose lab is developing new strategies to enable vaccine creation.

A potential Achilles heel for RNA viruses is their unique RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RDRPs). Amy Kistler and her group are building tools to systematically analyze new and novel viruses, including replicon-based assays aimed at identifying host factors; small-molecule inhibitors as antiviral therapeutics; and metagenomic approaches to identify emerging viruses in animal vectors.

Viruses co-opt host cell factors to complete their replication and infection cycles. Using whole-genome CRISPR-based screening technologies, Andreas Puschnik and his group are identifying essential host factors as potential therapeutic targets.

Antibodies are a key defense against viral infections. John Pak leads a protein science group capable of high-throughput expression, purification, and characterization of antibodies and antigens that can advance vaccine development.

Our Rapid Response Team, led by Cristina Tato, is tasked with disseminating the modern technologies of sequencing, metagenomics, and molecular epidemiology to health agencies in the U.S. and developing world. The aim is to empower public health experts to use genomic methods to identify the causes of microbial infections and for surveillance of emerging pathogens.