Luis Schang, MV, PhD
Baker Institute for Animal Health
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Professor of Chemical Virology
Baker Institute for Animal Health
235 Hungerford Hill Road
Ithaca, NY 14853
I am a molecular virologist interested in the interactions between viruses and cells, interactions which determine the outcomes of the infection and, consequently, pathogenicity. I am particularly interested in the commonalities among unrelated viruses. We 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.
We have applied this approach mostly to viral entry and egress and the epigenetic regulation of viral replication and pathogenesis. Our group has identified new families of antiviral compounds that are active against multiple unrelated viruses (broad-spectrum antiviral activity). These compounds have novel targets and mechanisms of action, including the first antiviral molecules targeting virion envelope lipids. We have 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 Zika virus (ZIKV).
Regarding epigenetics, I became interested early in my training in the effects of cyclin-dependent kinases on herpesvirus replication. This early work spearheaded the nowadays widely accepted concept of using cellular proteins as targets for antiviral drugs. Moreover, the finding that CDK inhibitors acted at an epigenetic level eventually led to the discovery that chromatin dynamics are altered in HSV-infected cells. We have shown that the interactions between histones and HSV-1 DNA result in unique nucleosome-like complexes, far more dynamic than the standard cellular nucleosomes, which regulate viral transcriptional competence. We continue analyzing the roles of chromatin dynamics in viral pathogenesis.
In 2005, we 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 results also provided experimental evidence for the long-held view that the energy requirements for membrane bending during fusion pose a major barrier to infectivity. 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
More recently, we found that a natural molecule, EGCG, inhibits attachment of viruses that bind to either sialoglycans and glycosaminoglycans. Virion protein binding to sialoglycan or glycosaminoglycan uses different mechanisms. We have thus focused on identifying the mechanism for this unexpected ability to inhibit attachment to the two types of glycans. We have embarked in a medicinal chemistry project, designing and synthesizing a number of novel chemical entities to test the requirements for inhibition of attachment to each type of glycan. We have also selected for resistance in viruses that attach to either sialoglycans or glycosaminoglycans. In a related project, we have identified molecules that inhibit specifically HCV cell-to-cell spread and used them to identify the actual mechanisms of HCV entry and egress in the infected liver.
1982–1987 Médico Veterinario (MV). School of Veterinary Sciences, National University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Argentina.
Graduate with distinction, Highest GPA in the class.
1991–1995 Doctor in Philosophy (Ph.D.). Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.
Graduated with distinction.
- 1995–1996 Research Associate. Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.
- 1996–2000 Post Doctoral Fellow. Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.
- 2000–2006, Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, with Cross-Appointment in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology (MMI).
- 2006–2012, Associate Professor (Tenured), Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, with Cross-Appointment in MMI.
- 2012–2016, Professor (Tenured), Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada, with Cross-Appointment in MMI.
- 2000–2016, Member of the Signal Transduction Research Group.
- 2000–2010, Member of the Molecular Mechanisms of Growth Control Research Group.
- 2004–2016, Member of the Alberta Centre for Prion and Protein Folding Diseases.
- 2007–2015, Member of the Alberta Veterinary Research Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
- 2011–2016, Founding Member, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
- 2016–ongoing, Professor of Chemical Virology (Tenured), Baker Institute for Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Links and abstracts for all of Dr. Schang's publications can be found at ORICD.
Awards and Honors
- Joseph J. Garbarino Achievement award, granted by the Animal Health Institute Foundation (Alexandria, VA) in recognition of “outstanding original research in animal health”, 1995.
- New Investigator Award, granted by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), 2002–2007 (see grants for details).
- AHFMR Scholar Award, granted by the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR), 2002–2007 (see grants for details).
- Burroughs-Welcome Fund Investigator in Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease (US$ 450,000), 2006–2013 (see grants for details).
- McCalla Professorship, in recognition of significant contributions to their field of research, teaching and learning, University of Alberta, 2007.
- Louis D. Hyndmann Sr. Award, in recognition of significant contributions to improving the welfare of animals used in research, teaching and testing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB. 2012.
- Virology Journal (L. Wang, Editor-in-Chief). BioMed Central Ltd, London, UK. (2012–2019).
- PLOS ONE (E. Martins and E Veitch, Senior Editors) Public Library of Science, San Francisco, CA and Cambridge, UK (2013–ongoing).
- Journal of Virology (Dr. R. Sandri-Goldin, Editor-in-chief) American Society for Microbiology, Washington, D.C. (2014–ongoing).
- Antimicrobial Chemistry and Chemotherapy (AAC) (Dr. Louis B Rice, Editor-in- chief) American Society for Microbiology, Washington, D.C. (2015–ongoing).
- Antiviral Research, The official Journal of the International Society for Antiviral Research (ISAR) (Dr. Mike Bray, Editor-in-chief) Elsevier B.V, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (2015–ongoing)
- American Society for Microbiology, USA (DNA viruses).
International Society for Antiviral Research.
- Elected Member of the Board of Directors (2019-2022).
- Member of the Publications Committee (2007–2019).
- Member of the Posters Award Committee (2014–ongoing).
- Ambassador for Canada and South America of (2014–ongoing).
- Co-Chair of the Ambassador Program (2017-ongoing).
- Chair of the Publications Workgroup (2019-ongoing).
- Editor, ISAR News 2.0 (2019-ongoing).