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CeZAP Monthly Thematic Area socials
Come gather with the CeZAP community at our monthly Thematic Area Socials. A different thematic area will be highlighted each month, but the socials are open to the entire CeZAP community. These socials will be an informal gathering for the CeZAP community, but also provide an opportunity for faculty, post-docs and/or students to give 3-5 minute talks about their research (within the “theme of the month”). These talks can serve to strengthen communication skills and/or facilitate collaborations. The day and time of the socials will rotate each month to accommodate the majority of people’s schedules. Lunch or snacks will be provided.
February CeZAP Thematic Social
"Antimicrobial Countermeasurers (vaccine & drug)"
Tues, February 14, 2023
12:00 - 1:00
ILSB 1040 and lobby area
Lunch will be provided
Register HERE

Contact Mike Zhang <> or Sarah Gouger <> for more information. Check out our website for more information on the Thematic Research Areas HERE
Thematic Area: Antimicrobial Countermeasures
(vaccine and drug)
Faculty spotlight in Thematic Area - Antimicrobial Countermeasures (vaccine and drug):
  • X.J. Meng, University Distinguished Professor
Overview of Research:
Meng’s research focuses on emerging and zoonotic viruses that are of human and veterinary public health importance, and specifically on delineating the molecular mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and cross-species infection and developing effective viral vaccines.
Research highlights relating to thematic area- Antimicrobial Countermeasures (vaccine and drug):
Meng has published more than 354 peer-reviewed scientific papers with > 34,203 citations and a h-index of 97. Meng is an inventor on 25 awarded and 18 pending U.S. patents on various viral vaccines. For example, Meng’s invention led to the development and commercialization of the first U.S. Department of Agriculture fully licensed vaccine (the longest-lasting circovirus vaccine on the global market since 2006) to protect against porcine circovirus infection and its associated diseases in pigs, a major threat to the global swine industry. 

 Recent Research Grant Awards:

  • NIH 2R01AI050611 (PI, 2002 to 2024): A chicken model to study hepatitis E virus pathogenesis
  • NIH 2R01AI050611 (PI, 2002 to 2024): A chicken model to study hepatitis E virus pathogenesis
  • NSF 2200045 (Co-PI, 2022-2024; T.M. Murali is the PI): PIPP Phase I: Community Informed Computational Prevention of Pandemics
  • USDA NIFA2021-08581 (Co-PI, 2022-2025; Mike Zhang is the PI): Development of a safe and effective nanoparticle-based vaccine against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus
  • NIH R01AI153433 (Co-I, 2020-2025; Jonathan Auguste is the PI): A novel strategy for generating safe and effective Flavivirus vaccines

Recent Publications:
Bo Wang, Tian D, Sooryanarain H, Mahsoub HM, Heffron CL, Hassebroek AM, and X.J. Meng. 2022. Two mutations in the ORF1 of genotype 1 hepatitis E virus enhance virus replication and may associate with fulminant hepatic failure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 2022; 119(34): e2207503119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2207503119.

Sooryanarain H, Heffron CL, Mahsoub HM, Hassebroek AM, Wang B, Tian D, Ahmed SA, and X.J. Meng. 2022. Modulation of SOCS3 Levels via STAT3 and Estrogen-ERαp66 Signaling during Hepatitis E Virus Replication in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells. Journal of Virology. 2022 Sep 14:e0100822. doi: 10.1128/jvi.01008-22.

Tian D, Li W, Heffron CL, Wang B, Mahsoub HM, Sooryanarain H, Hassebroek AM, Clark-Deener S, LeRoith T, X.J. Meng. 2022. Hepatitis E virus infects brain microvascular endothelial cells, crosses the blood-brain barrier, and invades the central nervous system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 2022 Jun 14;119(24):e2201862119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2201862119. 

Sooryanarain H, Ahmed SA, X.J. Meng. 2021. Progesterone-Mediated Enhancement of Hepatitis E Virus Replication in Human Liver Cells. mBio. 2021:e0143421. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01434-21. 

Maeda D.L.#, Tian D.#, Yu H., Dar N., Rajasekaran V., Meng S., Mahsoub H., Sooryanarain H., Wang B., Heffron C.L., Hassebroek A., LeRoith T., X.J. Meng*, and S.L. Zeichner*. 2021. Killed whole genome-reduced bacteria surface-expressed coronavirus fusion peptide vaccines protect against disease in a porcine model. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 2021;118(18):e2025622118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2025622118. [#co-first authors; *co-corresponding authors] 

Honors or recognitions:

  • 2022: Recipient, Virginia Tech Commercialization Champion Award
  • 2021: Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • 2021: Recipient, The Mikhail Balayan Medal for Contribution to the Study of Hepatitis E.
  • 2021: Recipient, Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Award, presented by AAAS, World Food Prize, and Riley Memorial Foundation. 
  • 2019: Recipient, The Inaugural Lorraine J. Hoffman Alumni Award, Iowa State University.
  • 2017: Recipient, Outstanding Faculty Award by State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
  • 2016: Elected Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
  • 2014: Elected Fellow, National Academy of Inventors.
  • 2013: Recipient, University Distinguished Professor title by Virginia Tech BOV. 
  • 2012: Elected Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology.

Overview of mentor activities (undergraduate, graduate, and/or professional students):

  • Meng has served as the major professor for 21 graduate students, served as a member of Graduate Advisory Committees for 63 graduate students, and mentored 18 undergraduate research students.

Overview of CeZAP and/or ID-IGEP involvement: 

  • Meng is the founding director of CeZAP from 2020 to 2022. 
Distinguished Speaker Seminar Series in Infectious Diseases
Spring 2023 Seminar Schedule
Thursdays at 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Fralin Hall Auditorium

More information is available on the website HERE
January 19, 2023: 
ID IGEP Presentations: Jason Pough, Hannah Ivester, Jonathan Joyce
January 26, 2023:
Kristy Murray, D.V.M., Ph.D. | BCMP Professor, Baylor College of Medicine & Sarah Gunter Ph.D. Assistant Profess or, Baylor College of Medicine “Implementing and expanding acute febrile illness surveillance for emerging pathogens in LMIC countries during a pandemic”
February 2, 2023:
Andres Velasco-Villa, Ph.D. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Molecular typing of rabies virus: a tool that has enhanced the elimination of the dog rabies cycle across Latin America”
February 9, 2023:
Nadia Romero-Gallardo, DVM, CDC One Health Office “One World-One Health”
February 16, 2023:
Rachel Silverman, Ph.D., ScM, Research Scientist, VMCVM "Using routinely collected public health data for epidemiologic research during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic"
February 23, 2023: 
Shawna McCallin, Ph.D. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne “Phage Therapy: Test tube to new treatments” 
March 2, 2023:
Kylene Kehn-Hall, MS, Ph.D., Professor, VMCVM
March 16, 2023:
David Schmale, Ph.D., SPES, CALS “Transport of microbes at interfaces”
March 23, 2023:
Zhaomin Yang, Ph.D., Professor, COS “Bacterial type IV pilus as a motility apparatus and anti-virulence target”
March 30, 2023:
Taylor Earley, Ph.D., Leidos Biomedical Research Inc.
April 6, 2023:
Gregory Glass, Ph.D., Professor, University of Florida
April 13, 2023: 
Jason Crawford, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry and Microbial Pathogenesis, Yale University “Metabolism at the Host-microbe Interface”
April 20, 2023:
Jean Whichard, Ph.D, CDC “Antimicrobial Resistance in Foodborne and Zoonotic Bacteria in the U.S., An Introduction to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System”
April 27, 2023:
Jonatas Abrahao, Ph.D., Professor Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil  
Biologicals sciences' Dana Hawley leads study showing how symptoms of illness help pathogens spread amongst songbirds

Using songbirds, a type known as finches, whose populations are affected by a pink-eye disease in nature, Dana Hawley and a team of researchers from Virginia Tech and the University of Memphis in Tennessee have shown just how easily these pathogens — in this case, a form of conjunctivitis common in birds, but harmless to humans — spread. And they did it without having the pink eye pathogen itself spread from bird to bird.

Instead, the team used UV fluorescent powder coatings and tracked that and not the pathogen. During the experiment, birds were divided up into three groups: not ill, mildly ill, and strongly ill, all with conjunctivitis, and each bird was housed with four healthy flockmates. By applying a powder coating around the outer eye of each bird, but not inside the eye, the researchers could track how much powder was spread to flockmates from birds that were strongly, mildly, or not ill with pink eye.

“We weren’t actually tracing the spread of conjunctivitis. We were tracing the spread of powder as a model for the likely spread of conjunctivitis,” said Hawley, who is also an affiliated member of the Virginia Tech Fralin Life Sciences Institute’s Global Change Center and its Center for Emerging, Zoonotic, and Arthropod-borne Pathogens, about the study, published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science.  READ MORE>>

Recent Publications by CeZAP Affiliated Faculty
High virulence is associated with pathogen spreadability in a songbird-bacterial system Hawley DM, Thomason CA, Aberle MA, Brown R, Adelman JS. R Soc Open Sci DOI: 10.1098/rsos.220975

Successful restoration of archived ovine formalin fixed paraffinembedded tissue DNA and single nucleotide polymorphism analysis Kravitz A, Tyler R, Manohar BM, Ronald BSM, Collins MT, Sriranganthan N. Vet Res Commun DOI: 10.1007/s11259-022-09937-0

Canine melanoma: A review of diagnostics and comparative mechanisms of disease and immunotolerance in the era of the immunotherapies. Stevenson VB, Klahn S, LeRoith T, Huckle WRFront Vet Sci. DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2022.1046636

Bacterial composition of a competitive exclusion product and its correlation with product efficacy at reducing Salmonella in poultry Lee MD, Pedroso AA, Maurer JJ. Front Physiol DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2022.1043383

Fast ViromeExplorer-Novel: Recovering Draft Genomes of Novel Viruses and Phages in Metagenomic Data Tithi SS, Aylward FO, Jensen RV, Zhang L. J Comput Biol DOI: 10.1089/cmb.2022.0397

Exploring the expanse between theoretical questions and experimental approaches in the modern study of evolvability Draghi JA, Ogbunugafor CB. J Exp Zool B Mol Dev Evol DOI: 10.1002/jez.b.23134
Examining the association between safe drinking water act violations and adverse birth outcomes in Virginia. Young HA, Kolivras KN, Krometis LH, Marcillo CE, Gohlke JM. Environ Res. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.114977

Connecting genomic islands across prokaryotic and phage genomes via protein families Aldaihani R, Heath LS. Sci Rep DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-27584-6

Super-enhanced evaporation of droplets from porous coatings. Hosseini M, Rodriguez A, Ducker, WA. J Colloid Interface ScDOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2022.11.065

Neuromodulation and differential learning across mosquito species Wolff G, Lahondere C, Vinauger C, Rylance E, Riffel JA.  Proc Biol Sci DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2022.2118

Book Chapters by CeZAP Affiliated Faculty

Lazzari, CR, & Vinauger, C (2022). Chapter 31: Modulation of host-seeking behaviour in kissing bugs. In Sensory ecology of disease vectors (pp. 801-813). Wageningen Academic Publishers

Benoit, JB, & Vinauger, C (2022). Chapter 32: Chronobiology of blood-feeding arthropods: influences on their role as disease vectors. In Sensory ecology of disease vectors (pp. 815-849). Wageningen Academic Publishers.
Recent Grants by CeZAP Affiliated Faculty
  • DoD DTRA project Coordinated One Health approach to risk assessment of hemorrhagic fever viruses in West Africa (CO
    • Luis Escobar, $99,540
This US$4.46M project is led by Dr. Jessica Radzio‐Basu from Penn State to conduct research and training in Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso. The project aims to develop an integrated, One Health approach to risk assessment of hemorrhagic fever viruses (HFVs) which are expanding scope in West Africa including Lassa, Ebola, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever and Rift Valley fever viruses. This project will provide complementary support to new members in the Escobar lab, including Dr. Abdu Alkishe, a recipient of the Virginia Tech Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship, who will study hantavirus across the Americas, PhD student Shariful Islam, a recipient of the  who will study bat-borne viruses, and PhD Student Reilly Brennan, who will study drivers of spillover transmission.
CeZAP received a large number of proposals for the ID IGEP Grant competition this year. Thank you to all who submitted proposals and congratulations to the following ID IGEP Affiliated students who received awards:
  • Jesse Garett-Larson, Hawley Lab
  • Yawen He, Chen Lab
  • Hannah Ivester, Allen Lab
  • Charlotte Nyblade, Yuan Lab
  • Kaylee Petraccione, Kehn-Hall Lab
  • Safoura Salar, Schubot Lab
  • Wei Wang, Vikesland Lab
  • Kassaye Belay, Vinatzer Lab
  • Shreya Choudary, Popham Lab
  • Hollyn Franklin,  Hsu Lab
  • Paige Banks, Mevers Lab
  • Nathaniel Esteves, Scharf Lab
  • Charlie Amoia, Weger Lab
  • Wilson Farthing, Stevens Lab
  • Krisangel Lopez, Auguste Lab
  • Greyson Moore, Bertke Lab
  • Helen Oker, Lahondere Lab
  • Cole Gannett, Lowell Lab
  • Pat Chaisupa, Wright Lab

Help us advertise the ID IGEP program and recruit students

Please consider showing this slide at the end of any upcoming conference presentations and /or in any undergraduate classes you are teaching. 
ID IGEP Powerpoint Slide - Click here to download
Introducing VecTraits
Introducing VecTraits: an addressable, interactive database for datasets related to functional trait variation of disease vectors. Dr. Leah Johnson's lab has been working collaboratively with labs from the University of Florida, Notre Dame, and Imperial College London to design and launch an open access data platform to study disease vectors called VectorByte. The project has aimed to provide not only a centralized open access source of data, but also to provide tools and training to help practitioners in the field to utilize the data. On January 17th, a database within the project related to vector performance traits, called VecTraits, was launched and is now available for exploration! The database will continue to grow and develop as we are able to digitize more data and add it to the existing corpus. Check out the link below for more information!
COVID-19 Outreach by CeZAP Affiliated Faculty

To Foster and Promote a Cohesive and Synergistic Environment for Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Research

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Center for Emerging, Zoonotic & Arthropod-borne Pathogens · 1918 Kraft Dr Rm 2036 · Blacksburg, VA 24060-6353 · USA