Title: Associate Professor
 College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, EPI
Research Interests:
 Pathogenesis of noroviruses, innate immune responses to norovirus infection and molecular mechanisms of norovirus replication.
Curriculum vitae:

Noroviruses are responsible for significant human disease, causing over 90% of nonbacterial epidemic gastroenteritis worldwide. It is also a major cause of severe diarrhea in children in developing nations and has been estimated to cause 200,000 deaths in this population each year.  Primary human norovirus infection does not elicit lasting protective immunity, a fact that could greatly affect the efficacy of vaccination strategies. Our long term goal is to elucidate the mechanisms by which noroviruses avoid the induction of protective immunity, ultimately translating this knowledge into successful vaccination approaches. Little is known regarding the pathogenesis of human noroviruses or the immune responses that control them because there has previously been no small animal model of norovirus infection. We discovered the first murine norovirus (MNV), MNV-1, and demonstrated its cultivation in macrophages and dendritic cells in vitro. We have now use these unique models to examine norovirus pathogenesis and immunity. We determined that MNV-1 is infectious orally and is associated with the induction of diarrhea, confirming the utility of this virus as a model to study human norovirus pathogenesis. Importantly, we have also determined that primary MNV-1 infection fails to afford robust protection to re-challenge with homologous virus. Thus, MNV-1 represents a valuable model with which to dissect the pathophysiological basis for the lack of lasting protection to human norovirus infection. We are also interested in elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms used by noroviruses.  To this end, we perform comparative studies of MNV strains that display varying degrees of pathogenicity.

Contact Information:
Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
College of Medicine
University of Florida
1600 SW Archer Road
Gainesville, FL 32610 
Email: skarst@ufl.edu