Sebastian Lauren Zeltzer
Research Specialist, Senior
The majority of my focus has been on Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) a beta herpesvirus that infects the majority of our species. My research has spanned endocytic trafficking, DNA damage and repair pathways, and growth factor signaling.
One of the seeming paradoxes of viral infection is that viruses which cause the most overt pathologies (Ebola, COVID19, Influenza) are often poorly adapted to the human host. The opposite is also true: viruses which present little to no symptoms in the host do so only by possessing exquisitely adapted programs to overcome and subvert the immune system. Often these 'non pathogenic' viruses exploit our immune systems, targeting aspects of our biology that were hitherto unknown or unappreciated. In this sense, asymptomatic viruses 'know' us better than we know ourselves and, if studied in this light, represent a veritable wellspring of knowledge about our own biology. Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV), a betaherpes virus, commonly causes asymptomatic infections and persists in the host indefinitely. My work focuses on unraveling the elegant and often novel means by which HCMV outwits our immune systems. This work has taken us to exciting frontiers in human biology, teaching us about the ways cells communicate with each other, warn neighboring cells that they are infected, repair their own DNA, and make decisions about how to grow and when to divide.