Mary Poss, PhD is a professor of biology and of veterinary and biomedical sciences and a member of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics and the Center for Comparative Genomics and Bioinformatics. She researches the molecular mechanisms of virus adaptation to changing host environments spanning cellular to population scales. Among her research interests are:
  • Viruses as Rapidly Evolving Markers of Host Population Dynamics which uses rapidly evolving virus genes as markers to study recent changes in host population demographics. This approach has application to species conservation and to the ecology of infections in natural host populations.
  • Emerging Virus Infections: Newly recognized diseases in humans and animals often arise from infections with viruses that naturally reside in a different host species. She uses experimental systems and computational methods to determine how viruses respond to new host environments.
  • Viruses and Innate Immunity: Mary uses an in vitro system to examine the spatial and temporal dynamics of cell-specific innate responses to primary infection by acute respiratory viruses and consequences to establishment and spread of a secondary virus. She uses an in vivo system to integrate temporal changes in host innate responses and virus genomes in systemic lentivirus infections.
  • Pathogen Interactions: Simultaneous infection with multiple parasites is a common phenomenon; however, the effect of coinfecting species on the course of infection for either parasite is often not investigated. Mary studies the molecular mechanisms of disease attenuation that occur during coinfection with virulent and apathogenic distantly related feline lentiviruses.