Grant McFadden, Ph.D.
Molecular Genetics & Microbiology

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Viral Immune Invasion
Dr. Grant McFadden's scientific expertise is on the nature of how viral pathogens interact with the host immune system. His lab studies the mechanisms that determine the tropism and host range of viruses for host species and they are examining the molecular basis operative when poxviruses cause zoonotic infections in man. They are developing specific viruses as novel candidates for the oncolytic treatment of human cancers, and have already successfully treated neural gliomas in mouse models of glioblastoma using this strategy. This work has led to collaborations with companies interested in pathogen countermeasures (Myriad Corp) and oncolytic virotherapy (Wellstat Corp). These projects have convinced Dr. McFadden that the continued study of pathogens, and in particular the study of the fundamental mechanisms that regulate their emergence and thus dictate how they leap from one host species to another, is itself a new and emerging discipline whose time has arrived. Poxviruses infect a broad spectrum of vertebrate hosts but the basis for the host range specificity exhibited by individual virus isolates is poorly understood. Myxoma virus (MV) is a poxvirus that causes lethal infection only in rabbits, but the mechanism underlying the strict MV species tropism is not known. Like all poxviruses, MV expresses a wide array of immunomodulatory proteins, but relatively few of these are actually rabbit-specific when tested in vitro. In fact, at least one such species-nonspecific immunomodulatory protein derived from MV, SERP-1 is currently in human clinical trials as an anti-inflammatory drug. The lab has investigated the molecular basis for tropism specificity of poxviruses using the MV model system. The study of host tropism by poxviruses thus offers the potential for development of novel platforms for replication-restricted vaccine vectors and oncolytic viruses, but it also likely to produce novel insights into how and why poxviruses can occasionally leap from a long-term evolutionary host species to cause zoonotic infections in humans.

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Not Accepting New Students This Year

Contact Information:
office: Academic Research Building, R4-295
lab: Academic Research Building, R4-285
phone: (352) 273-6852
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Dr. McFadden is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at the University of Florida. He received a B.Sc. degree (Honours Biochemistry) in 1970 and a Ph.D. degree (Biochemistry) in 1975, both from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. In 2001, he was named Canada Research Chair in Molecular Virology and, in 2002, he received the Hellmuth Prize. He was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2004 and as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2007. In 1997, Dr. McFadden co-founded Viron Therapeutics, Inc. (with Dr. A. Lucas) in London, Ontario to explore the use of viral proteins for therapeutic purposes against inflammatory diseases. He continues to expand the portfolio of viral immune modulating agents that can be derived from the large DNA viruses and current understanding of viral pathogenesis together with immune and inflammation based mechanisms of disease.

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