Kuhn and Rossmann are looking at how the
virus interacts with a host cell. The virus needs
the cell because the cell provides nutrients for
the growth of the virus. And by understanding
the structure of viruses, researchers gain
insight as to how the virus interacts with its
environment outside the cell, how the virus gets
into the cell and how the virus gets out of the
“How does the virus do that? It’s a simple
question, but a very complex answer because
there are many types of systems in play that are
pro-viral and anti-viral,” Kuhn says.
Kuhn says the Zika outbreak points to the need
by research universities like Purdue “to build on our
pockets of excellence” to better understand, diagnose
and treat disease that kills millions of people every
year. In addition to his research roles, Kuhn is the
inaugural director of the Purdue Institute for
Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious
Disease, known as PI4D.
PI4D is focused on four primary areas (see
right column), tapping the research expertise of
more than 80 faculty members from over 20 departments and six Purdue colleges.
Efforts to establish PI4D and the Integrative
Neuroscience Center as parts of the Pillars of Excellence
in the Life Sciences Initiative will help advance research
that improves lives and supports Indiana’s critical life
sciences business sector.
A collaboration between the offices of the Executive
Vice President for Research and Partnerships and the
Provost, the Pillars of Excellence in the Life Sciences
Initiative is housed in Purdue’s high-profile, interdisciplinary Discovery Park.
Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, chief scientist and executive
director of Discovery Park, says Purdue is uniquely qualified with its interdisciplinary strengths to address the
challenge of infectious diseases, which account for more
than 17 million deaths worldwide each year.
“This era of science and technology is growing and
advancing society at an exponential rate. And the Pillars
of Excellence in the Life Sciences Initiative is a perfect
example of what scientists and engineers can do to solve
these very real global health issues,” Díaz de la Rubia
says. “Our timing for this investment in the life sciences
and a focus on imaging and diagnostics, infectious diseases, immunology and inflammation, and control and
intervention couldn’t be better.”
IMAGING AND DIAGNOS TICS, led by biomedical engineering and chemistry
professor Ji-Xin Cheng. This group is providing the necessary backbone
that supports the other program areas through novel imaging and
diagnostic approaches, which are often required to complement the
myriad of research projects at PI4D, leading to a new field of research.
INFEC TIOUS DISEASES, led by comparative pathobiology professor Suresh
Mittal. The team spans a wide variety of disciplines to leverage all
possible talents and perspectives, including faculty from food science,
biological science, mathematics, entomology, comparative pathobiology, medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology.
IMMUNOLOG Y AND INFLAMMATION, led by comparative pathobiology
professor Chang Kim. This group will build on the advances in immunology that have led to the control of many chronic inflammatory processes and have had a paradigm-shifting impact on immunotherapy
CONTROL AND IN TERVENTION, led by Jean Chmielewski, the Alice Watson
Kramer Distinguished Professor of Organic Chemistry/Chemical Biology.
The goal of this group is to understand the mechanisms by which
infection, disease and inflammation can occur, and to further defend
against those mechanisms and expand the impact of basic research
in this area.
Professors Rossmannand Kuhn