The mission of Center for ViroScience and Cure (CVC) is to develop therapeutic and curative strategies that improve the lives of the many who are battling acute, chronic and difficult-to-treat virus infections and related complications. 

Our researchers have been highly successful in developing small molecules, from discovery to clinical use, for treating devastating human viral infections. Currently, our drug discovery efforts focus on the following areas:

  • Anti-HIV/AIDS drugs targeting replication and various viral reservoirs
  • Anti-HCV drugs targeting viral replication
  • Anti-HBV drugs targeting viral replication
  • Anti-SARS-CoV-2 small molecule inhibitors
  • Anti-Monkeypox virus small molecule inhibitors
  • Anti-Ebola virus drugs
  • Anti-Zika virus drugs
  • Anti-Influenza virus drugs
  • Anti-Norovirus drugs targeting viral replication
  • Anti-Dengue virus drugs targeting viral replication
  • Anti-respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) drugs targeting viral replication
  • Anti-cancer drugs
  • Experimental models for chronic liver disease

The Center for ViroScience and Cure includes faculty from the Department of Pediatrics, as well as other departments within the School of Medicine, Emory-Children’s Center, and other interested schools within the university. Current primary members include:

Dr. Raymond Schinazi – Director of LOBP, Advisor to CVC, Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Schinazi serves as the Frances Winship Walters Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology, which houses over 70 scientists specializing in chemistry, virology, molecular biology, biochemistry, pharmacokinetics, and molecular modeling related to the development of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, herpesviruses, Norovirus, and Dengue. Dr. Schinazi’s proven track record of success in drug discovery and development, combined with the diversity of scientific expertise within his group, will contribute toward the launch of the Center. 


Dr. Baek Kim – Co-Director of CVC, Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Kim is the Co-Director of CVC and has served Professor within the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology since 2013. Dr. Kim’s 30 years of experience in biochemical and virological research, which has been fully supported by NIH, has been focused on the replication process and cell tropism of HIV/AIDS. Dr. Kim has investigated enzymological and mechanistic research on influenza virus and SARS-CoV-2 RNA-dependent RNA polymerases. Dr. Kim recently launched a new anti-HIV-1 drug discovery platform, called allosteric integrase inhibitors, which target both the unique function of HIV-1 integrase during viral maturation and HIV-1 reactivation from latently infected T cell viral reservoirs.


Dr. Stefan Sarafianos - Co-Director of CVC, Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Sarafianos holds the Nahmias-Schinazi Distinguished Professor endowed chair at Emory University, where he serves as Associate Director of LOBP and Co-Director of CVC. He also serves as Co-Director of the B-HIVE U54 Center at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Since 1993, he has published >190 manuscripts in retroviral structural biology, biochemistry, and virology. The structures solved through his collaborations are seminal in the field of HIV drug resistance and DNA polymerases. His lab develops novel inhibitors and characterizes their mechanisms of inhibition and resistance. Notably, his work with EFdA has resulted in >25 publications and licensing by Merck. Dr. Sarafianos was the first to provide a structural model for the SARS-CoV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and express, purify, and characterize the SARS Co-V RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Since 2003, his work with coronaviruses has focused on discovery of antivirals that block RNA unwinding and viral entry. Recently, his lab has focused on developing tools for extensive screening and mechanistic characterization of inhibition, drug resistance, and basic biology of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2.


Dr. Jan Mead – Professor Emeritus, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Mead is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Pediatrics. Her research focused on opportunistic infections related to HIV infection, specifically Cryptosporidium parvum. Her expertise in immunology and SCID mouse models has been frequently sought through grant collaborations and interdisciplinary projects.


Dr. Lefteris Michailidis - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Michailidis joined Emory University in Fall 2021 and has established a multi-discplinary lab focusing on virus-host interactions in HBV and other viruses.


Dr. Franck Amblard - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Amblard serves as the senior chemist in the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology, focusing on organic and medicinal chemistry for the synthesis of anti-HIV and anti-HCV derivatives.


Dr. Leda Bassit - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Bassit specializes in virology research focused on hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and Dengue. In the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology, she has developed a high-throughput assay to test drug candidates for activity against hepatitis B and is currently receiving training through the University in translational research methods.


Dr. Selwyn Hurwitz - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Hurwitz’s expertise in pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) modeling contributes to antiviral studies conducted in the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology. He regularly collaborates with the Emory National Primate Research Center and the Winship Cancer Institute on studies involving drug development and dosing for HIV, hepatitis, and cancer.


Dr. Karen Kirby - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Kirby serves as Assistant Professor in the Sarafianos Lab. Her research focuses on structural biology, X-ray crystallography, structure-based drug design, HIV, HBV and Enterovirus 71.


Dr. James Kohler - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Kohler serves as co-Director of the Scientific Working Group on Viral Eradication within Emory’s Center for AIDS Research. His experience in immunology and animal models is actively engaged within the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology for drug development studies and grant proposals involving viral eradication for HIV, hepatitis B, and Dengue.


Dr. William Cantara - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Cantara is primarily interested in understanding how the fundamental biophysical properties of RNA serve to drive viral replication. In practice, he is interested in studying the structure and conformational heterogeneity of viral RNAs and determine how changes in these characteristics affect host protein binding and viral replication. This work is helping to decipher the molecular mechanisms that drive viral replication at a foundational level. Dr. Cantara’s field’s of interest include virus/host interactions and RNA biology, Biochemistry, molecular and structural biology.


Dr. Sijia Tao - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Tao serves as a senior analytical chemist in the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology. Her research focuses on use of LC-MS/MS for in vitro cellular pharmacology studies on antiviral agents in different cell lines as well as preclinical and clinical in vivo pharmacokinetic analysis of antiviral drugs in plasma and tissues. Her research interest also includes virus related lipidomics, metabolomics, and proteomics studies.


Dr. Sujin Lee - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Sujin Lee received her PhD in Viral Immunology from University of Tennessee. Her main research interests are 1) to develop vaccines against respiratory pathogens such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human rhinoviruses (RV) by the generation of most efficient protective immune responses, 2) to develop novel antiviral agents for infectious diseases including emerging viruses, 3) to elucidate mechanisms how HIV-1 infected CD4+ T cells and myeloid cells can serve as HIV reservoirs and contribute to HIV-1 persistence utilizing several in vitromodels including human CD4+ T cells, human monocyte-derived macrophages, iPSC-derived microglia cells (brain) and transmigration model (lung).    


Dr. Shuiyun Lan - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Lan is an Assistant Professor in the Sarafianos group and his research interests include molecular biology, virology and virus replication and antivirals development. Dr. Lan has worked on the replication and pathogenesis of HCV, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, Lassa fever virus, and SARS-CoV-2 with replicon, Virus-Like Particles (VLPs), and reverse genetics systems. He also worked on replicon-based assays for HCV, Norovirus and Influenza A/B in antivirals development and characterization, including characterization of Sofosbuvir. His current research focuses on exploration of novel antivirals and therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2, Nipah virus, and HBV.


Dr. Ivo Melcak - Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Melcak is a molecular biologist with extensive experience in the fields of cell biology, biochemistry and structural biology, an expert with complete workflows from DNA design to protein structure elucidation and validation by in vivo and in vitro approaches. He has a long-standing interest in the mechanistic aspects of intranuclear trafficking and the regulation of nucleo-cytoplasmic transport of proteins and ribonucleoproteins. Currently, he is interested in the structural aspects of viral entry through the Nuclear Pore Complex.


Dr. Longhu Zhou - Instructor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Zhou has more than 30 years of synthetic organic experience of which more than 20 years were in drug discovery and development. His research has focused on developing new nucleosides, nucleotides, and small molecule antiviral agents for treatment of HCV, HBV, HIV, dengue, influenza and SARS-Cov-2 virus. He has designed and synthesized several HCV NS5A inhibitors as well as nucleosides and nucleoside pro-drugs as lead antiviral agents. Dr. Zhou has co-authored more than eighty research publications in peer-reviewed journals, and co-inventor of ten patents and/or patent applications.


Dr. Hongwang Zhang - Instructor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Zhang is a nucleoside chemist with a focus on organic synthesis. He is also interested in studying the relationship of potency (or PK/PD) and structural physicochemical properties, and deciphering the functional group pose in the complex of protein with small molecules.


Dr. Dharmesh Patel - Instructor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Patel is a molecular modeler/computational chemist in Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology. He uses various molecular modeling approaches for drug discovery such as virtual screening, molecular docking, pharmacophore mapping, structure-based drug design and binding affinity prediction of small molecules. He also has expertise in protein structure analysis, homology modeling and protein-protein interactions, and prediction of drug resistance mutations. He has experience in ADME and toxicity prediction of drug-like molecules. He performs molecular dynamic simulations with enhanced sampling techniques to calculate free energy profiles of the drug like molecules. He is experienced in determination of 3D structure of bio molecules using NMR.


Dr. Julia LeCher - Instructor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. LeCher’s research interests are in novel therapeutic stratagems for the study and treatment of human disease with a primary focus on zoonotic and emergent viral agents as well as the design and development of unique 3D cell/tissue culture platforms for their studies. She also has significant experience and interest in the molecular underpinnings of viral infections and resultant sequalae through studies of viral appropriation of host immune signaling pathways to untangle complex signaling pathways and identify critical points of dysregulation. As a virologist, she specializes in notable human pathogens with epidemic/pandemic potential including high-risk group BSL-2 and 3 level pathogens (yellow fever virus, dengue fever, SARS-CoV-2, monkeypox).

CVC faculty leverage past success with new partnerships, technologies, and basic science discoveries in order to achieve high-impact translational outcomes:

Schinazi Lab

The primary interest of the Schinazi lab is to design and develop novel antiviral agents with the goal of advancing promising compounds to clinical trials. The group is developing novel small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of human viral infections including HIV, herpesviruses, hepatitis B and C, as well as emerging human viruses including Monkeypox, Dengue, West Nile, Yellow Fever, Chikungunya, Ebola, Norovirus and Enteroviruses. To complement drug discovery efforts, the group excels in the phenotypic and genotypic characterization of drug-resistant virus variants with the intention of mitigating resistance selection using drug combinations. Five antiviral agents developed in the Schinazi lab have gone on to advanced clinical studies resulting in 26 NDA approvals.

Kim Lab

Baek Kim's laboratory has been working on the molecular and cellular biology of HIV-1 replication, mutagenesis, evolution and viral escape for more than two decades. They do so by employing both biochemical and virological approaches. Their recent research focuses on HIV-1 infection to nondividing myeloid cells that serve as long-living HIV-1 reservoirs, contributing to HIV-1 persistence. They have found that HIV-1 replication in nondividing target cells harbors various distinct features, compared with activated CD4+ T cells. Their research claims differences between replication in these cell types in terms of host restriction, viral replication kinetics and cell biology/signaling responses can contribute to viral evolution and pathogenesis. Also, they recently launched a new anti-HIV drug discovery program through an industry collaboration, and this drug platform, called allosteric integrase inhibitors, targets HIV-1 integrase for its unique functions during both viral maturation and HIV-1 reactivation from latently infected T cell reservoirs.

Sarafianos Lab

The Sarafianos Laboratory works towards unraveling the molecular details of how biomedically-relevant enzymes function, how they are inhibited, how they develop drug resistance and towards developing drugs that will treat human disease by novel mechanisms of action. In pursuit of these goals, they use a combination of conventional and cutting-edge research tools, including protein biochemistry, molecular biology, fluorescence imaging/microscopy, macromolecular engineering, X-ray crystallography, molecular modeling, enzymology, and high-throughput technologies. Target proteins include HIV reverse transcriptase, HIV capsid protein, Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reverse transcriptase, and HBV capsid protein. Ongoing efforts focus on various steps of HIV, SARS, Mpox, Nipah HBV, and HCV life cycles, including cell entry, uncoating, reverse transcription, nuclear entry, assembly, and host interactions towards developing novel therapeutics.

Michailidis Lab

The Michailidis research program focuses on understanding the interaction between viruses and the host using a set of biochemical, cell-based and in vivo methods. In particular, the group is interested in HBV and the development of eradication strategies that involve state-of-the-art primary hepatocyte systems and humanized liver chimeric mice. These systems expand the scope of the research beyond viral hepatitis to other liver-related diseases and fields including fatty liver disease and liver immunometabolism. In addition, they have a strong interest in antiviral mechanisms carried out by interferon-stimulated genes and other host proteins but also small molecule inhibitors in regards to mechanisms of action and resistance. In this direction their main focus has been HIV, HBV, and SARS-CoV-2. To accomplish these goals, they use medium and high-throughput genetic screens (gene overexpression and CRISPR knockout) across different cell systems and in some cases in humanized mice.


  • Risener, C. J., Woo, S., Samarakoon, T., Caputo, M., Edwards, E., Klepzig, K., Applequest, W., Zandi, K., Goh, S. L., Downs-Bowen, J. A., Schinazi, R. F., Quave, C. L.: Botanical inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 viral entry: a phylogenetic perspective.  Sci Rep 2023; 13(1):1244.  PMCID: PMC9868516.
  • Biteau NG, Amichai SA, Azadi N, De R, Downs-Bowen J, Lecher JC, MacBrayer T, Schinazi RF, Amblard F. Synthesis of 4'-Substituted Carbocyclic Uracil Derivatives and Their Monophosphate Prodrugs as Potential Antiviral Agents. Viruses. 2023 Feb 16;15(2):544. doi: 10.3390/v15020544. PMID: 36851758; PMCID: PMC9962574.
  • Cicka D, Niu Q, Qui M, Qian K, Miller E, Fan D, Mo X, Ivanov AA, Sarafianos SG, Du Y, Fu H. TMPRSS2 and SARS-CoV-2 SPIKE interaction assay for uHTS. J Mol Cell Biol. 2023 Mar 15:mjad017. doi: 10.1093/jmcb/mjad017. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36921991.
  • Lan S, Neilsen G, Slack RL, Cantara WA, Castaner AE, Lorson ZC, Lulkin N, Zhang H, Lee J, Cilento ME, Tedbury PR, Sarafianos SG. Nirmatrelvir Resistance in SARS-CoV-2 Omicron_BA.1 and WA1 Replicons and Escape Strategies. bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Jan 3:2022.12.31.522389. doi: 10.1101/2022.12.31.522389. PMID: 36656782; PMCID: PMC9844013.
  • Balasubramaniam A, Tedbury PR, Mwangi SM, Liu Y, Li G, Merlin D, Gracz AD, He P, Sarafianos SG, Srinivasan S. SARS-CoV-2 Induces Epithelial-Enteric Neuronal Crosstalk Stimulating VIP Release. Biomolecules. 2023 Jan 20;13(2):207. doi: 10.3390/biom13020207. PMID: 36830577; PMCID: PMC9953368.
  • Singer MR, Dinh T, Levintov L, Annamalai AS, Rey JS, Briganti L, Cook NJ, Pye VE, Taylor IA, Kim K, Engelman AN, Kim B, Perilla JR, Kvaratskhelia M, Cherepanov P. The Drug-Induced Interface That Drives HIV-1 Integrase Hypermultimerization and Loss of Function. mBio. 2023 Feb 28;14(1):e0356022. doi: 10.1128/mbio.03560-22. Epub 2023 Feb 6. PMID: 36744954; PMCID: PMC9973045.
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Are you looking for an exciting career in biomedical research or research administration? Please contact Dr. Maryam Ehteshami (mehtes2@emory.edu) for more information on the career opportunities listed below:


Schinazi group:

Kim group:

  • Research Specialist, Lead- Apply here   

Sarafianos group: