My research group focuses on understanding the mechanisms responsible for viral replication and development of new strategies to combat viral pathogens. We combine chemical biology, medicinal chemistry, and molecular virology approaches to tackle challenges in both basic and translational research.
Over the past decade, our efforts have centered on two significant problems: first, addressing the challenges that limit our current arsenal of antivirals and second, understanding the specificity and function of host lipids in RNA virus replication. We are keenly interested in discovery of new antiviral targets and strategies and leveraging these discoveries to develop first-in-class small molecule antivirals. We also have a strong interest in developing or adapting tools from chemistry, chemical engineering, and biophysics to probe new areas of virology.
Antara Chakravarty has been a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Prof. Priscilla Yang since September 2021. She obtained her Ph.D. from Prof. ALN Rao’s lab at the University of California-Riverside. She is now interested in understanding the impact of altered membrane lipid composition on the replication of membrane-associated RNA viruses, using the hepatitis C virus and brome mosaic virus as model systems. Additionally, she is curious about exploring various modalities of targeted protein degradation as an antiviral approach. Outside work, she enjoys reading, hiking, wildlife photography, watercolor painting, and crocheting. Her secret ambition is to photograph as many bird species seen in California as possible, which is around 450 species.
In 2019, I got my Master of Science from the Technical University Munich with my studies focused on virology. Currently, my main project is the investigation of Dengue virus fusion and fusion inhibition by small molecules. Additionally, I am implementing HBV production to investigate HBV targeting compounds. I like running with my dog and camping in my free time. Something about me that you would not suspect could be that I started volunteering for the American Red Cross.
Luning received his PhD (2022) and BSc (2016) at Peking University College of Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Zhi-Xiang Yu. During his PhD, Luning focused on synthesizing bioactive natural products such as sesquiterpenes and alkaloids. Besides, he also developed several novel metal-catalyzed cycloaddition methodologies to construct synthetically challenged ring systems and study the reaction mechanism by quantum chemical calculation based on density functional theory. Luning joined Prof. Yang’s laboratory in September 2022 as a postdoctoral researcher, interested in developing novel therapeutics targeting virus through small molecule.
Degree: PhD, Chemical Engineering, Cornell University
Hobbies: film photography, snowboarding, hiking
What is your secret ambition? I am highly interested in business consulting, private equity, venture capital, and entrepreneurship.
Research focus: My current research interest is antiviral drug discovery and host-pathogen interaction. Specifically, I develop and mechanistically characterize direct-acting antiviral small molecules against the Family Flaviviridae such as dengue virus, Zika virus, Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), and West Nile Kunjin virus.
PhD, 2014 Purdue University, Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology.
I am working on targeted protein degradation of several viral proteins. It is an emerging field with potential to develop novel antivirals by targeting viral proteins with or without an enzymatic activity.
I grew up in the Himalayas and enjoy outdoors, traveling and gobbling knowledge in general.
Something about me that you wouldn’t suspect:
After my PhD I worked in political campaigning and policymaking in Nepal for two years before returning to the bench as a postdoc.
In 2012 I finished my B.S. in biology at the Johanne-Gutenberg University in Mainz with my bachelor thesis entitled ’’Studies on the interaction of the USH 1G protein SANS with cytoplasmic dynein and its role in intracellular transport’’. In 2014 I received my MS inbiology, also in Mainz. My M.S. focused on molecular biology and biochemistry resulting in my master’s thesis ’’ Biochemical and molecular biological studies on the expression of hemocyanin isoforms from P.diffusa and V.viviparus ’’
In 2015 I joined the Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Hannover Medical school participating in the PhD program molecular medicine with the Hannover biomedical research school. I graduated in 2020 and my thesis focused on dissecting distinct regulatory mechanisms of actomyosin-based contractility in non-muscle cells.
In 2021, I joined Priscilla Yang’s lab at Stanford University where I am working on the development of inhibitor strategies against the SARS-CoV-2 RNA-dependent-RNA-polymerase (RdRp) and the accessory Nef-protein encoded by human immunodeficiency virus type 1, 2 (HIV-1 and -2) and the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). I am also involved in projects using targeted protein degradation as antiviral strategy against distinct targets of the Dengue virus.
Outside of the lab, I enjoy outdoorsy activities as camping and hiking but also to gettogether with friends. Privately, my desire is for a kinder, honest and certainly healthier world.
I pursued my graduate study at Tsinghua University, and obtained Ph.D. in Biology in China.
The research I am work on is about cryoEM and cryoET studies of flavivirus virons and recombinant envelope proteins complexed with small molecules.