David Dunigan

David Dunigan

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David Dunigan
Research Professor

  • Ph.D., The University of Connecticut, 1985
My research focuses on host-virus interactions, especially as it relates to the consequences of infection. For the past several years I have studied the chloroviruses, which are evolutionarily related to other large DNA viruses, such as asfar, asco, irido, marseille, mimi and pox viruses; collectively known as “giant viruses”. We are investigating many aspects of chloroviruses including the virion structure and function; genome structure, function and evolution; metabolic changes associated with infections, as well as the role of algal viruses in aquatic ecosystems. We collaborate with a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins University regarding the extraordinary observation they made when evaluating post mortem brains from individuals with serious mental disorders: individuals with psychiatric disorders tend to have chlorovirus sequences in the brain. Our role has been to evaluate the natural history to address the issue of the likelihood of humans coming into contact with chloroviruses. In addition to defining the hosts in aquatic systems, we are evaluating a key issue to this linkage, can chloroviruses replicate in mammalian cells and/or tissues?