Lab Research Overview

We take molecular approaches to two herpesviruses, herpes simplex virus (HSV) and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), in part to understand processes that distinguish viral functions from cellular functions, which can be exploited to permit antiviral therapy. The foci are 1) post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression relevant to virus latency, a fascinating and clinically important topic, 2) functional dissection of replication proteins, and 3) antiviral drug targets, drug mechanisms, and drug resistance, with emphasis on targeting proteins involved in nuclear egress.

Post-transcriptional regulation and latency: We are studying post-transcriptional regulation of herpes simplex virus genes, including how host and viral microRNAs regulate the virus and vice-versa, and translational regulation.

Herpesvirus DNA replication proteins: These proteins are both antiviral drug targets and prototypes for human replication proteins. We are currently focusing on determining 3-D structures of these proteins in complex with replication templates (with the Abraham lab), and studying mechanisms of drugs that inhibit the viral polymerases. 

Drug targets and nuclear egress: Aside from our studies of herpesvirus DNA replication proteins. we are studying the human cytomegalovirus protein kinase that phosphorylates ganciclovir and is inhibited by maribavir, and promotes nuclear egress.  We are also studying the two-subunit nuclear egress complex as a potential target for new antivirals.  



Postdoctoral position available

Our lab together with David Knipe's lab in the HMS Department of Microbiology is seeking applicants for a postdoctoral research fellow.  Here's the description 

Perform research on mechanisms that regulate whether herpes simplex virus undergoes a productive ("lytic") infection or a latent infection in neurons.  Potential mechanisms that might be studied include neuronal factors, epigenetic and chromatin modifications, microRNAs, and translational regulation.   Studies in both cell culture models, including human iPSC-derived neurons and mouse models are anticipated. Experience with one or more of these areas of research, viruses, immunofluorescence and in situ hybridization methods, and/or RNAseq is desirable, but not required.

If you're interested, please send an email explaining your qualifications and interests to Don Coen ( and/or David Knipe ( along with your curriculum vitae and the names and contact information of three references.