Robert Davey, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB ) in Galveston, has been appointed to the position of scientist in the Department of Virology and Immunology at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute.
“We are delighted that Dr. Davey will be joining Texas Biomed,” said Jean L. Patterson, Ph.D., the Virology and Immunology Department chair. “He is an outstanding researcher and educator, and brings expertise in cell biology, the development of therapeutics and high-containment research.”
San Antonio’s Ewing Halsell Foundation donated $2 million to Texas Biomed to fund the new position. “We are very grateful to the Foundation for making this recruitment possible. It is truly a transformational gift,” said Kenneth P. Trevett, Texas Biomed’s president and CEO. Davey will start at Texas Biomed about August 1 and his title will be Scientist and Ewing Halsell Scholar.
“The facilities at Texas Biomed are precisely what I need for doing my drug discovery work with high containment viruses,” said Davey. “The high containment lab is excellent and the opportunity to work with the trained veterinary staff will be invaluable for helping discoveries move into the clinic.”
Davey, 43, a native of Melbourne, Australia, became a U.S. citizen last year. He joined UTMB in 2000 from Harvard Medical School in Boston where he was an instructor in medicine. His work focuses on the identification of cellular factors important for establishing infection by retroviruses and more recently, filoviruses which cause hemorrhagic fever. He is trained to work in biosafety 4 laboratories (BSL4s) and operates a multidiscipline laboratory applying modern molecular techniques to these little-studied pathogens. This has culminated in a deeper understanding of the entry and cell signaling pathways that are used by viruses to penetrate the cell membrane and establish infection.
Davey’s work includes discovering and understanding how new antiviral drugs work. Presently, in collaboration with the National Chemical Genomics Center in Bethesda, Md., he is performing a drug screen using 350,000 small molecules to help identify new drugs for prevention and treatment of disease caused by some of the world’s most dangerous viruses. This has never been done before on this scale. Texas Biomed will purchase a custom designed microscope that will let his team watch how viruses move into cells. This approach should enable major discoveries about virus infection and open up new ways to treat disease.
Davey’s research has been published in the journals Nature and Science and, more recently, his work with Ebolavirus has been published in the high-impact journals PLoS Pathogens and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Ewing Halsell Foundation is a private charitable trust dedicated to improving the quality of life for Texans by providing access to the arts, education, and quality health care, and by helping provide opportunities for the economically disadvantaged.
Texas Biomed, formerly the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions dedicated to advancing health worldwide through innovative biomedical research. Located on a 200-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio, Texas, the Institute partners with hundreds of researchers and institutions around the world, targeting advances in the fight against AIDS, hepatitis, malaria, parasitic infections and a host of other infectious diseases, as well as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, psychiatric disorders, and problems of pregnancy, For more information on Texas Biomed, go to www.TxBiomed.org, or call Joe Carey, Texas Biomed’s Vice President for Public Affairs, at 210-258-9437.