Vidya Mangala Prasad
University of Washington, USA
She obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Biotechnology from SASTRA University, Thanjavur, India. Her interest in protein biology and physical techniques led her to transition from biotechnology to structural biology to obtain her Ph.D. under Dr. Michael G. Rossmann in the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University. Her doctoral work was on x-ray crystallography of rubella virus’s nucleocapsid protein and cryo-electron tomography/microscopy of rubella virus and rubella virus proteins. Her post-doctoral work at Purdue University and University of Washington has been focused on using cryo-electron tomography and cryo-electron microscopy to determine and analyze the structures of various infectious viruses such as rubella virus, Zika virus, HIV-1 and influenza virus in order to gain insights into the infection machinery used by these viruses to infect healthy cells.
Viruses are complex machines that effectively infect cells and hijack the cellular machinery to propagate themselves. Using high resolution structural techniques, it is possible to study these viruses and their component proteins to understand their mechanism of action. Latest advances in cryo-electron microscopy and tomography now make it further possible to visualize viruses in near-physiological states and also to arrest viruses at different stages of their infectious life cycles to study them at an ultrastructural level. My work on infectious viruses that affect humans is, aimed in the long term, to study the steps in virus infection with the objective to identify critical junctures in the molecular life cycle of these highly pathogenic viruses to target for prevention of infection and treatment.