Dr. Schinazi’s Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology emphasizes research in two medically important areas. First, the group is developing a number of approaches to the treatment of infections caused by human immunodeficiency viruses, herpesviruses, HBV, HCV, and Dengue virus. These treatment options include antiviral agents as well as synthetic, biochemical, pharmacological, and molecular genetic approaches, including molecular modeling and gene therapy. The primary objective is to preclinically develop in-house compounds for the prevention and treatment of these important pathogens. Areas of particular interest include the phenotypic and genotypic characterization of drug-resistant virus variants, as well as ways to overcome resistant viruses using combinations of antiviral drugs. Five compounds developed by this group have gone on to advanced clinical studies, and three of those have already been approved by the US FDA for the treatment of HIV-1 and HBV infections.
The second area of research is in the development of treatments for the protozoa Cryptosporidium parvum. This work involves animal models (SCID mice), cell culture methods, and molecular approaches (e.g., DNA library construction, sequencing) to identify targets unique to this organism.
Dr. Schinazi’s lab, established at the Atlanta VAMC in 1983, houses a staff of 23 PhD personnel, 8 support scientists, 3 graduate students and 3 administrative personnel. The laboratory consists of approximately 3900 sq. ft. of lab space, with another 700 sq. ft. dedicated to administration. This includes BSL-2 and BSL-2* laboratories for research and training, four dedicated molecular biology labs, three cellular/molecular toxicology and pharmacological facilities, mass spectrometry, gene chip and flow cytometry facilities. Additionally, it has access to the VA’s state-of-the-art animal research facility. Within the next year, Dr. Schinazi’s group will move to the new Pediatrics building on Emory’s main campus, slated for completion in 2013. Ongoing projects are primarily funded by multiple grants from the NIH, including one from Emory’s Center for AIDS Research (CFAR).