Texas Biomed Staff
Robert A. Davey
Chair, Scientist and Ewing Halsell Scholar | Virology and Immunology
Drugs work together with vaccines to protect us against disease. Drugs are particularly effective for short to mid-term protection or when people are in areas where a recent outbreak has occurred or vaccination is not possible. Drug identification in the pharmaceutical industry has relied on testing large sets of chemicals, often in the millions, to block replication of virus or bacterial pathogens. After finding several thousand chemicals that work weakly, organic chemists modify and improve some of them to make more effective compounds and to ensure low toxicity and side effects to the patient. To handle so many chemicals is difficult and relies on robotics and other complex equipment. Unfortunately, this equipment is large, expensive and dangerous and requires continuous maintenance making it impractical to house in the high containment laboratory.
The BSL4 maximum containment laboratory in the department of Virology and Immunology offers the perfect environment to develop and optimize an alternative workflow for identification of drugs for high containment pathogens. We have developed semi-automated approaches to drug screening that are safe, efficient and work at high containment. These include a microscope system that can automatically take photos of infected cells in 96 and 384-well plates as well as computer software that we have customized to automatically identify infected cells and determine drug efficacy. To ensure safety, our lab personnel are still heavily involved in hands on work but we can drastically reduce the time to finding effective drugs by 90% over more traditional methods by using this approach. Still, testing millions of chemicals would take a very long time but we have developed systems that can be used at low containment to help narrow down targets to a few thousand chemicals which can be tested in a few weeks. Presently we are engaged in an ongoing project with a major drug screening facility at the National Institutes of Health. Our goal of this project is to identify new drugs against Marburg (cousin of Ebola virus) and Lassa Fever viruses. The hits from this screen will be testing and optimized in the BSL4 lab at Texas Biomedical Research Institute. We are also working with other labs in the department to help analysis of data and assays and are already reaping the benefits in time and cost savings
Doctoral Degree: Microbiology and Immunology Ph.D. (1993)
University of Adelaide , Australia
Dissertation: Characterization of nucleoside transport in the protozoan intestinal parasite Giardia Lamblia
University of Adelaide
1993-1996 Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. James Cunningham, Division of Hematology, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
1993-1995 Postdoctoral Fellow, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, with Dr. James Cunningham at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Complete List of Published Work
GRB2 interaction with the ecotropic murine leukemia virus receptor, mCAT-1, controls virus entry and is stimulated by virus binding
Chen Z, Kolokoltsov AA, Wang J, Adhikary S, Lorinczi M, Elferink L, Davey RA
J Virol 86: 1421-32, 2012
PubMed ID: 22090132
Inhibition of Lassa virus and Ebola virus infection in host cells treated with the kinase inhibitors genistein and tyrphostin
Kolokoltsov AA, Adhikary S, Garver J, Johnson L, Davey RA, Vela EM
Arch Virol 157: 121-7, 2012
PubMed ID: 21947546