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Life Cycle of Poxviruses Studied

June 21, 2011

The Medical College of Wisconsin received a two-year, $420,750 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study the maturation and encapsidation of the DNA chromosome of a specific type of virus called a poxvirus.

Paula Traktman, Ph.D., the Walter Schroeder Professor and Chairman of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and senior associate dean for Research Development, is principal investigator for the grant.

There are at least seven types of poxviruses that affect humans; two can be deadly. There is fear that smallpox could be harnessed as a biological weapon by terrorists. Additionally, monkeypox has sickened hundreds. Poxviruses do not replicate like other viruses, and little is known about two proteins that appear to play a large part in the encapsidation process, which is key to the assembly of infectious virus particles.

This research will provide better understanding of this little-known portion of the viral replication process. By understanding the way these viruses spread, we will be able to develop better antiviral therapies to prevent human infection.

About The Medical College of Wisconsin:

The Medical College of Wisconsin is the state’s only private medical school and health sciences graduate school. Founded in 1893, it is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and service. Approximately 1,200 students are enrolled in the Medical College’s medical school and graduate school programs. A major national research center, it is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second largest in Wisconsin. In FY 2009 -10, faculty received approximately $161 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes, of which $148 million is for research. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Annually, College faculty direct or collaborate on more than 2,000 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,250 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 400,000 patients annually.


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