Molecular Biology of Influenza Viruses and Host Restriction
The Hale laboratory studies the molecular biology of influenza viruses, pathogens that continue to cause significant seasonal human and animal disease burdens. Zoonotic transmissions of influenza viruses from animal reservoirs regularly threaten to cause severe human outbreaks (e.g. H5N1 and H7N9 ‘bird flu’), and such spill-overs can be precursors to new pandemics (e.g. the 2009 ‘swine flu’ pandemic).
Our focus is to understand mechanisms by which host cells normally restrict viral infection, and the features that influenza viruses must evolve in order to overcome these barriers and replicate efficiently. This interest has led us to study questions relating to host innate immunity and defensive stress responses (interferons; interferon-stimulated genes; SUMOylation; viral antagonism by NS1), as well as host determinants of species tropism (ANP32A; viral polymerase adaptation). Our work helps to understand what makes certain influenza viruses particularly virulent threats, and can be exploited to develop novel concepts for disease therapy or rational design and propagation of live-attenuated virus vaccines.
We are grateful to be well-funded by the European Research Council (ERC), Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), Novartis Foundation for Medical-Biological Research, and the University of Zurich. In the past, our work has also been funded by the Wellcome Trust, Royal Society and Medical Research Council (MRC).
Turkington et al., Journal of Virology, 2018 (Bat influenza virus NS1 function)
Domingues & Hale, Cell Reports, 2017 (Viral polymerase restriction by host ANP32A)
Domingues et al., Cell Reports, 2015 (Host SUMOylation responses to infection)
Ayllon et al., Journal of Virology, 2014 (H7N9 NS1 and virulence)
Everett et al., Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2013 (Viruses and SUMO)
Join our team
We are always happy to receive applications to join our friendly and international team from highly-motivated Post-Doc, PhD or Masters student candidates. Prior experience in virology is not essential, although a keen interest in molecular and/or cell biology would be an advantage. The group can provide training in modern molecular virology (including at Biocontainment Level 3), and has experience in technologies such as protein biochemistry, DNA cloning, quantitative proteomics, transcriptomics, next-generation sequencing (NGS), fluorescence microscopy, CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing and genome-scale depletion screening.
Post-Doc candidates should e-mail Prof. Dr. Ben Hale directly to discuss funding possibilities and projects (please include your CV and a paragraph outlining your scientific interests).
PhD students are recruited exclusively through the Microbiology and Immunology (MIM) program of the Life Science Zurich Graduate School. Application deadlines are 1st July and 1st December each year.
UZH students in Biology, Biomedicine or Virology (or a related subject with permission from the Course Director) can apply to join our group for their Masters’ thesis (usually 12 months in duration). To discuss possible projects and timings, please send your CV and a few sentences about your motivation to Prof. Dr. Ben Hale.