Baker Institute for Animal Health


Coronavirus Update

Virology experts at Baker Institute Weigh in on global pandemic


Frequently Asked Questions 

Summary of COVID-19 research underway


Scientists at the Baker Institute focus on many aspects of animal health, oftentimes working across traditional scientific disciplines to break new ground.

Infectious Disease and Immunology

Despite the development of vaccines and powerful antimicrobials in the past century, infectious diseases continue to cause suffering and death among animals, and humans with new diseases emerging every year.

Across the world, many are directly experiencing for the first time the impact of a major public health crisis, the pandemic of COVID-19. 

Virologists at the Baker Institute seek to understand the ways in which viruses, bacteria, and parasites enter the body and cause illness or death. Their investigations into antiviral drugs, new vaccine targets, and the source of unexplained infections, yield insights into ways these infections could be prevented, controlled, or eventually eradicated.

Baker Institute Virologists:

Colin Parrish, Ph.D./ John M. Olin Professor of Virology at the Baker Institute for Animal Health. Dr. Parrish, as a graduate student, was part of the team that discovered the history-making vaccine for Canine Parvovirus. Parrish’s areas of research include virology, immunology, virus-cell interactions, virus evolution and host range. He is one of the leading veterinary researchers focusing on protecting animal health with an emphasis on learning new fundamental information about the emergence of viruses in new hosts, and how viruses spread from host to host.

Key related papers:
-Onward transmission of viruses: how do viruses emerge to cause epidemics after spillover?
-Cross-Species Virus Transmission and the Emergence of New Epidemic Diseases

Dr. Luis Schang, MV, Ph.D./ Professor of Chemical Virology.  Dr. Schang’s lab identify small molecules that inhibit the infectivity or replication of multiple viruses and then use these compounds as probes to find commonalities among mostly unrelated viruses. This research answers fundamental questions on molecular virology while identifying biologically active small molecule scaffolds that may be developed as antivirals. He has focused on a number of important pathogens, including herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 (HSV-1; -2), hepatitis C virus (HCV), or influenza A virus (IAV), and emerging viruses such as SARS CoV-2, Zika and dengue viruses. In 2005, he discovered that novel antiviral compounds interfered with the fusion of the virion envelope to the cell membrane, identifying in the process the first lipid-targeting antiviral molecules. These studies resulted in a series of patents with priority date on 2007 (issued in 2014-2017), which are now licensed to a spinoff company that is analyzing potential commercialization. He also serves as a board member for the International Society for Antiviral Research (ISAR).

Key related papers:
-Rigid amphipathic fusion inhibitors, small molecule antiviral compounds against enveloped viruses.
-5-(Perylen-3-yl)Ethynyl-arabino-Uridine (aUY11), an Arabino-Based Rigid Amphipathic Fusion Inhibitor, Targets Virion Envelope Lipids to Inhibit Fusion of Influenza Virus, Hepatitis C Virus, and Other Enveloped Viruses
-A Small Molecule Inhibits Virion Attachment to Heparan Sulfate- or Sialic Acid-Containing Glycans
-Antivirals Acting on Viral Envelopes Via Biophysical Mechanisms of Action

John S. L. Parker, BVMS, Ph.D./ Associate Professor of Virology. Work in John Parker's laboratory is focused on how viruses take control of cellular metabolism and biosynthesis. Basic science like that which  Parker conducts lays the foundation for One Health work, establishing facts about viruses and diseases and outlining connections between different species so that efforts to curb disease and improve animal and human health can be more effective. His work to define how calicivirus binds to cells may lead to drugs and vaccines for feline calicivirus, and those strategies could eventually be carried over to treat and prevent infection with norovirus or other pathogens.

Key related papers:
-Mammalian orthoreovirus Infection is Enhanced in Cells Pre-Treated with Sodium Arsenite.
-Simultaneous multiplexed amplicon sequencing and transcriptome profiling in single cells.
-A pLOT of Viral Persistence.
-The Natural Host Range Shift and Subsequent Evolution of Canine Parvovirus Resulted from Virus-Specific Binding to the Canine Transferrin Receptor

Gerlinde Van de Walle, DVM, Ph.D./Associate Professor joined the Baker Institute in 2013, and her virology research centers on the pathogenesis of DNA viruses that infect companion animals, more specifically parvoviruses, which are very small DNA viruses, and herpesviruses, which are large DNA viruses. In addition, since these DNA viruses have closely-related members that infect humans, these studies can also have an important impact on our understanding of human disease pathogenesis. Her lab uses and establishes various model systems, including in vitro 2D cell cultures, ex vivo 3D explant and organoid models, and in vivo animal models, for these pathogenesis studies.

Key related papers:
-Establishment and characterization of an air-liquid canine corneal organ culture model to study acute herpes keratitis.
-A novel corneal explant model system to evaluate antiviral drugs against feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1).
-First demonstration of equid gammaherpesviruses within the gastric mucosal epithelium of horses.
-Tropism, pathology, and transmission of equine parvovirus-hepatitis.

Dr. Laura Goodman, Ph.D., is an emerging infectious disease researcher trained at Cornell and Harvard, including postdoctoral work in the Parrish lab. She has investigated mechanisms of pathogen emergence and specializes in development of novel molecular testing and typing methods. She also brings experience in veterinary diagnostics into her research and teaching. Her lab takes a One Health perspective on pathogen discovery and surveillance, with focus areas on antimicrobial resistance and tick-borne disease, two emerging threats with the potential for major impacts on human and animal health. Dr. Goodman is a regular contributor to Cornell DVM Continuing Education programs and has taught many workshops on molecular diagnostic testing.

Key related paper:
-Recently Goodman was interviewed in regards to the new SARS-CoV-2 variant by CNY Central and along with fellow CVM faculty member, Dr. Gary Whittaker contributed to a recent journal article in The LANCET: Public health surveillance of infectious diseases: beyond point mutations

Diego Diel, DVM, MS, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Virology, Director of the Virology Laboratory at the Animal Health Diagnostic Center has been working with emerging viruses for over ten years. The Diel lab is currently temporarily located at the Baker Institute campus just up the road from Cornell's main campus. Diel’s research focuses on virus host-interactions, infection immunity and viral vaccine and diagnostic development. In the last few years he has been actively engaged in research focusing on the pathogenesis, infection immunity and on development of improved vaccine candidates and diagnostics for several emerging viruses, including epidemic coronaviruses affecting domestic animal species.

Key related papers:
-The S2 Glycoprotein Subunit of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus Contains Immunodominant Neutralizing Epitopes.
-Passive Immunity to Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus Following Immunization of Pregnant Gilts With a Recombinant Orf Virus Vector Expressing the Spike Protein

-Immunogenicity of a Recombinant Parapoxvirus Expressing the Spike Protein of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus

Additional Cornell University Experts on coronavirus

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