Anthony Griffiths

Anthony Griffiths, Ph.D.

Associate Scientist and Director of the Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory | Virology & Immunology

Research Focus

The Griffiths laboratory studies the biology of highly pathogenic viruses at high biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) and maximum containment (BSL-4), under the umbrella of aiding the development of countermeasures. The need for countermeasures for these pathogens has been highlighted by the recent Ebola virus outbreak that originated in western Africa. Additionally, the agents we study are considered to have potential as bioterrorism agents, posing a threat to national security. The Griffiths lab studies the virus biology for the development of vaccines and therapeutics to prevent and treat infection.

  • Ebola virus
  • Marburg virus
  • Sudan virus
  • Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus
  • Western Equine Encephalitis virus

Dr. Griffiths has more than 20 years of expertise in virology with special focus on classical and molecular virology as tools to understand viral pathogenesis and zoonotic transmission.

Laboratory Team

Photo by: Josh Huskin

Featured from left to right: Beata Boczkowska – Postdoctoral Scientist; Elizabeth Holguin – Graduate Student; Blair Bollar – Administrative Assistant; Anthony Griffiths – Associate Scientist; Gabriella Worwa – Staff Scientist; Gloria Rodriguez – Research Assistant; Laura Avena –  Graduate Student; Lydia Bederka – Postdoctoral Scientist; Kendra Alfson – Postdoctoral Scientist; Taylor Weary – Research Assistant; Ashley Silvia – Graduate Student; Jennifer Delgado – Research Assistant

In The Lab

My lab is particularly interested in highly pathogenic viruses. This includes Ebola virus and Marburg virus that have high case fatality rates.

We study infectious forms of these RNA viruses in a BSL-4 maximum containment laboratory.

Typically, RNA viruses have high spontaneous mutation rates due to error-prone RNA-dependent RNA polymerases. Consequences of high spontaneous mutation and replication rates are populations composed of heterogeneous swarms of related variant sequences, sometimes called quasispecies. We are investigating the importance of this diversity to filovirus replication and pathogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, we are exploring the potential to exploit the high mutation rate as a therapeutic mechanism. Specifically, we work to understand the roles of the individual genotype populations in virus infection.

Many of our studies build on recent advances in sequencing and we use Illumina sequencing machines and a MiSeq in our laboratory. Our system permits quantification of the individual viral genotypes in a sample, and we have developed techniques to rapidly sequence whole viral genomes, including the 5’ and 3’ termini. Currently, we are expanding the use of our machines to gene expression and ribosome profiling of cells, and to tissues infected with BSL-4 pathogens.

Among other funding sources, we currently receive funding from the Medical Countermeasure Systems Joint Project Management Office, JPEO-CBD (MCS), to support the advanced development of filovirus vaccines under the Animal Rule.

Main Technologies And Methods Used

  • Viral growth requirements and particle characterization
  • Electron microscopy
  • Quantification of individual viral genotypes within a sample
  • Rapid sequencing techniques for whole viral genomes, including the 5′ and 3′ termini
  • Ultra deep sequencing
  • MiSeq and Illumina
  • Gene expression and ribosome profiling of cells and tissues infected with BSL-4 pathogens
  • Optimization and validation of plaque assays
  • RT-qPCR assays
  • Novel diagnostic technologies
  • Determination of vaccine efficacy
  • Novel diagnostic technologies
  • Determination of vaccine efficacy