James D. Chappell, M.D., Ph.D.
Microbiology, epidemiology, and prevention of respiratory and enteric infections
My scientific background broadly encompass the pathogenesis, etiology, epidemiology, and prevention of infectious diseases, with primary emphasis on viral infections of the respiratory and enteric systems. I obtained my formal scientific training in virology with a concentration on the replication and pathogenesis of double-stranded RNA viruses using the mammalian reovirus model system. Subsequently, I studied structure-function relationships within reovirus replication factories that culminate in the production of infectious viral progeny and serve as post-entry determinants of viral host-cell tropism. The basic investigatory research was complemented by a suite of collaborative clinical studies addressing contemporary epidemiology, causation, pathobiology, and vaccine-mediated amelioration of acute respiratory illness and gastroenteritis, focusing particularly on rotavirus and influenza virus. My integrated interests in basic and applied virology recently found a home in the Denison Laboratory, where I am studying coronavirus replication strategies and potential targets for therapeutic intervention and immunoprophylaxis against emerging human coronavirus infections, such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus. This research combines fundamental insights into coronavirus-cell interactions gained through a model experimental system—murine hepatitis virus—with basic, clinical, and translational knowledge of human coronaviruses to elucidate principles of viral disease pathogenesis, host adaptation, and epidemic spread that can be exploited toward prevention and management of unpredictable, yet inevitable, appearance of new zoonotic coronaviruses and other human viral pathogens surfacing from environmental reservoirs with increasing frequency.