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Brian Geiss

My long-term goal is to provide the best training possible for students in my lab to help them achieve their career goals.  This involves helping students understand how to design and implement projects, improve their technical writing skills, understand how the grant writing process works, and how to become effective overall scientists.  Researchers in my laboratory are expected to be active participants in the science they perform, and help write grants to fund the research they perform, write manuscripts on their results, and present their data at regional and national meetings.

I am fascinated by microbes.  These tiny critters have caused problems for humans from time immemorial, and the virology field is now getting to the point where we can really understand how they work at a molecular level and use them to our own advantage.  New strategies, including structure-based rational drug design and high-throughput screening, are now being used to develop new classes of antivirals effective against these viruses which have the potential for improving human health worldwide.  In addition to wanting to treat human disease caused by viruses, studying how these viruses replicate is unveiling just how elegant these molecular machines truly are and how diverse genomic replication mechanisms can be.   For example, flaviviruses are able to replicate their RNA genome primarily with two proteins (NS3 and NS5).  These proteins encode all of the known enzymatic activities necessary to produce progeny genomes, as compared to prokaryotes and eukaryotes that require hundreds or thousands of proteins to replicate their genomes.  I find it fascinating that an organism can do so much with so little.  We strive to understand how these viruses replicate both to help keep people healthy and to admire these amazing molecular machines.  We use classical virology, protein biochemistry, RNA biology, and theoretical chemistry (in collaboration with Martin McCullagh) to delve deeply into how these important human pathogens replicate their genomes.

More recently I have re-discovered my childhood fascination with building things. One of the things I don’t like about molecular biology is that you move colorless liquids around and don’t get to hold tangible things in your hands. Over the last few years I have established robust and fruitful collaborations with Chuck Henry, David Dandy, and Tom Chen where we merge molecular biology, microbiology, and engineering to create new types of diagnostics devices for viral and bacterial diseases. Getting to hold a device in your hand that you helped create and can detect low levels of pathogens is very satisfying.

Collaborators

Chuck Henry
David Dandy
Tom Chen
Jeff Wilusz
Martin McCullagh
Martin Bisaillon
Fayyaz ul Amir Afsar Minhas
Chris Snow
Tim Stasevich​

Biography

 

I attended the University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS) and earned a BS in Biology with an emphasis in Genetics in 1997.  During my time at KU, I worked as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in a Hybridoma production lab, a C. elegans genetics lab, and in a B-cell immunology/Epstein-Barr virus lab.  These experiences provided outstanding insights into what science and research is really like, and I strive to provide similar research experiences to undergraduates at CSU.  I attended graduate school at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department through the Cell and Molecular Biology Program.  I completed my PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Lynda Morrison and Dr. John Tavis in 2002.  My dissertation work focused on developing novel vaccines against Herpes Simplex Viruses and examining the molecular biology of the HSV VP22 protein.  I then worked as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with Dr. Michael Diamond in the Department of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO), working on West Nile virus RNAi evasion and antiviral drug development. This was my first introduction into the world of arbovirology. 

In 2005 I moved to Fort Collins to work at the Colorado State University Arthropod-Borne and Infectious Diseases Lab (AIDL) with Dr. Ken Olson as a Post-Doctoral Fellow focusing on developing novel Alphavirus transduction systems.  In 2006 I was promoted to Research Scientist and have pursued developing antivirals against flavivirus infection as well as examining the structure and function of the flavivirus capping enzyme.  These projects have been performed in collaboration with Dr. Susan Keenan (University of Northern Colorado), Dr. Olve Peersen (CSU), Dr. Martin Bisaillon (University of Sherbrooke, QC), and many others.

In 2010 I was promoted from Research Scientist to Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology and established my laboratory in the Microbiology Building with much help from my amazing students and Research Associates.  In 2015 I was appointed Professeur Associé in the University of Sherbrooke Département de Biochimie (Quebec, Canada).  In 2016 I was promoted to Associate Professor, and in 2018 I became Director of the DMIP MS-B program. I currently serve as an Associate Editor for the journal Viruses.​ 

 

Non-Work Stuff

My interests outside of the work include spending quality time with my wife (Mary-Claire) and kiddos (Owen & Ava), hiking in the beautiful mountains near Fort Collins, amateur astronomy, reading (mainly Sci-Fi, imagine that), and learning parkour while trying not to seriously hurt myself in the process.  ​ 

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Contact Us:
1682 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1682

Phone:
(970) 491-6144

Fax:
(970) 491-0603