Gary Whittaker, PhD

Dr. Gary Whittaker

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

James Law Professor of Virology

Department of Public and Ecosystem Health

Infectious Disease Epidemiology Section Chief, Master of Public Health Program

Cornell Research profile

Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
T8-016C Veterinary Research Tower
Ithaca, NY 14853

Department of Public & Ecosystem Health
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
S2-005 Schurman Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853

Office: 607-253-4019

Research Interest

The structure and function of viral envelope proteins—how genomic mutations lead to changes in the envelope proteins and control viral pathogenesis in influenza viruses and coronaviruses—SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV and feline coronaviruses; novel vaccines and diagnostic test development.

Fight FIP: Unraveling feline infectious peritonitis from the ground up

Cornell University Public Health profile

Twitter -

Dr. Whittaker's FIP research is highlighted in the video here:


Ph.D. (University of Leeds, UK)

Biography/Professional Experience

Dr. Whittaker studied Microbiology and Biochemistry at the University of Leeds (UK). He was awarded a PhD degree in 1991, with a focus on the glycoproteins of herpesviruses. He then did post-doctoral studies on influenza virus at Yale Medical School before moving to Cornell in 1996, where his research is focused on coronaviruses of humans and animals. He is a currently a Professor in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and Public & Ecosystem Health 


Ghosh S, Dellibovi-Ragheb TA, Kerviel A, Pak E, Qiu Q, Fisher M, Takvorian PM, Bleck C, Hsu VW, Fehr AR, Perlman S, Achar SR, Straus MR, Whittaker GR, de Haan CAM, Kehrl J, Altan-Bonnet G, Altan-Bonnet N. “β-Coronaviruses Use Lysosomes for Egress Instead of the Biosynthetic Secretory Pathway.” Cell. 2020 Oct 27:S0092-8674(20)31446-X. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.039. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33157038; PMCID: PMC7590812.

André NM, Miller AD, Whittaker GR. “Feline infectious peritonitis virus-associated rhinitis in a cat.” JFMS Open Rep. 2020 Jun 23;6(1):2055116920930582. doi: 10.1177/2055116920930582. PMID: 32637147; PMCID: PMC7313338.

Jaimes JA, André NM, Chappie JS, Millet JK, Whittaker GR. “Phylogenetic Analysis and Structural Modeling of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Reveals an Evolutionary Distinct and Proteolytically Sensitive Activation Loop.” J Mol Biol. 2020 May 1;432(10):3309-3325. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2020.04.009. Epub 2020 Apr 19. PMID: 32320687; PMCID: PMC7166309.

Nathan L, Lai AL, Millet JK, Straus MR, Freed JH, Whittaker GR, Daniel S. “Calcium Ions Directly Interact with the Ebola Virus Fusion Peptide To Promote Structure-Function Changes That Enhance Infection.” ACS Infect Dis. 2020 Feb 14;6(2):250-260. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.9b00296. Epub 2019 Dec 10. PMID: 31746195; PMCID: PMC7040957.

Lai AL, Millet JK, Daniel S, Freed JH, Whittaker GR. “The SARS-CoV Fusion Peptide Forms an Extended Bipartite Fusion Platform that Perturbs Membrane Order in a Calcium-Dependent Manner.” J Mol Biol. 2017 Dec 8;429(24):3875-3892. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2017.10.017. Epub 2017 Oct 19. PMID: 29056462; PMCID: PMC5705393.

Licitra BN, Millet JK, Regan AD, Hamilton BS, Rinaldi VD, Duhamel GE, Whittaker GR. “Mutation in spike protein cleavage site and pathogenesis of feline coronavirus.” Emerg Infect Dis. 2013 Jul;19(7):1066-73. doi: 10.3201/eid1907.121094. PMID: 23763835; PMCID: PMC3713968.

PubMed - Complete Listing

Awards and Honors

Pfizer/Zoetis Animal Health Award for Research Excellence (2001)

Professional/Academic Affiliations