B. V. Venkataram Prasad
Baylor College of Medicine
Dr. Prasad explores the structure-function correlation of various viruses that attack the digestive system. He believes a better understanding of these relationships will help design and develop more effective antiviral drugs.
The professor of biochemistry and biology joined the Baylor College of Medicine in 1988 and received his first Welch research grant in 1990. Much of his research focuses on the rotavirus responsible for gastroenteritis that kills some 250,000 children each year; the norovirus, best known as the scourge of cruise ships; and influenza.
Dr. Prasad and his group use cryo-electron microscopy and x-ray crystallography as well as biochemical and cell biology techniques to explore the structures and then correlate this architecture with the viral functions.
“We want to understand, at the molecular level, these very fundamental processes. A detailed blueprint of how these viruses attack cells will allow the development of more effective drugs to prevent and treat the diseases the viruses cause,” Dr. Prasad says.
He also is researching the non-structural NS1 and NSP1 proteins found in influenza and rotavirus, respectively. Encoded by the virus genome, these proteins primarily function to counter the body’s immune response, allowing the virus to survive and reproduce.
“There is something very satisfying in helping to unravel the workings of viruses that have caused so much human misery over the centuries,” Dr. Prasad says.