Welcome to the Janowski lab

The COVID-19 pandemic will not be the last pandemic, as human populations will remain susceptible to newly emerging viruses. While the techniques for viral discovery have greatly expanded the number of known viral sequences, many fundamental questions regarding the biology of viruses can only be addressed through isolation and propagation of viruses in the laboratory setting. Our lab focuses on the characterization of novel viruses in order to understand the mechanisms by which they cause disease in humans.

We have previously discovered a novel family of viruses named Statoviruses identified from mammalian specimens, and aided in the characterization of other novel viruses like Bourbon virus and SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Our current focus of study is on astrovirus VA1 (VA1), a viral species of the Astroviridae family. Astroviruses have been long assumed to be pathogens of the human gastrointestinal tract. However, astroviruses have been detected from cases of brain inflammation, known as encephalitis, and VA1 is the most commonly detected astrovirus species. VA1 was first discovered in 2009 but most humans have been exposed to VA1 as we’ve detected neutralizing antibodies in about 75% of adults in the St. Louis Metropolitan area and from residents of the Peruvian Amazon River Basin.

Adult seroprevalence of neutralizing antibodies to VA1.

Our lab was the first to isolate VA1 and grow it in the laboratory setting and subsequently, we have generated many of the fundamental tools in which to study VA1. Through our work with VA1, we have identified some interesting biology that translates to the study of other viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

Please see our projects page for more details…