Viruses continue to cause an astonishing array of diseases, resulting in enormous human morbidity and mortality in both the developed and developing world. In recent years, many new and reemerging viruses have played major roles in human disease. The AIDS pandemic continues to spread, and future HIV cases in Asia, China, and Africa are predicted to result in significant suffering and death. Newly discovered members of the Paramyxoviridae (Nipah and Hendra viruses) and Coronaviridae (SARS and MERS-CV) have been shown to cause severe and even fatal infections in humans. Several classic viral diseases such as yellow fever and dengue have reemerged in ever-spreading geographical locations, and the major threat presented by the appearance and spread of West Nile virus in the USA has changed human outdoor activities in the summer. New viruses have been found associated with cancers, such as the herpesvirus KSHV and the polyomavirus MCV. And, as always, new strains of influenza with pandemic potential appear throughout the world.
It is likely that several, if not many, chronic diseases of unknown etiology are caused by or are associated with viruses, be they "old friends" or new viruses yet to be discovered. This idea is bolstered by new insights into the array of viruses, including papillomaviruses, herpesviruses, polyomaviruses, and others that inhabit apparently healthy tissues. The physiological consequences of these "stealth" infections is only beginning to be explored. On the other end of the spectrum, both human and animal viruses present major threats as potential agents in bioterrorism, with both public health and economic consequences.
The purpose of the Center for Molecular and Tumor Virology (CMTV) is to support research programs in virology by bringing together scientists who direct independent but interactive research programs in molecular and tumor virology. The CMTV is especially designed to enhance the expertise of junior level investigators, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students who will continue to work in virology for decades to come. The research programs of CMTV investigators address quite varied outcomes of virus infection, and each faculty investigator employs state-of-the-art approaches to understand how viral gene products alter the host. However, all of the ongoing research is interactive and benefits from the experience and expertise of all members of the Center and of our faculty colleagues both within and outside of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. The Center fosters interdisciplinary research among Center members and LSUHSC faculty investigators working in several areas of research emphasis: