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Ileana Cristea: Proteomics Meets Virology

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Recommended by: David Muddiman, North Carolina State University

In Ileana Cristea's lab at Princeton, proteomics and virology meet. Cristea is trying to understand the process of viral infection from the angle of protein function. "Over the last years, I have been interested in advancing these proteomics approaches in their ability to access transient cellular events and pathways," she says. "Specifically, my laboratory is focusing on developing approaches for building a quantitative spatial and temporal view of virus-host protein interactions during the progression of a viral infection." Cristea employs a multi-disciplinary approach, combining mass spectrometry and proteomics with genetics, microscopy, bioinformatics, and virology. "We were able to identify mechanisms utilized by viruses to manipulate host cell processes at different stages of the virus life cycle," she adds. "Most recently, we identified a family of proteins with broad-spectrum anti-viral properties. These proteins are very promising targets for therapeutic intervention, so these are exciting times in our research."

Looking ahead

A researcher's best advantage lies in "performing multi-disciplinary studies, and there needs to be more scientists with interdisciplinary expertise," Cristea says. In proteomics, she would like to continue to work toward capturing dynamic cellular processes. "While there have already been significant advances, most analyses are still performed in a fairly static manner," she adds. "As the technologies continue to improve, it would be rewarding to access the dynamic intricacies of a cell's life. This would also involve advancing the techniques for single-cell analyses."

And the Nobel goes to…

If Cristea were to win, she hopes it will be for the "discovery and validation of molecules as critical targets for antiviral intervention, and proof of their clinical application."

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