Professor studying virus threats to NZ

Prof Michael Quinones-Mateu has become the second holder of the Webster Family Chair in Viral...
Prof Michael Quinones-Mateu has become the second holder of the Webster Family Chair in Viral Pathogenesis at the University of Otago's department of microbiology and immunology. Photo: Supplied
Recently appointed University of Otago scientist Prof Miguel Quinones-Mateu plans to focus part of his research on emergent viruses that could pose a threat to New Zealand's biosecurity.

Early this year, the Venezuelan-born virologist took up his post as the second holder of the Webster Family Chair in Viral Pathogenesis at the Otago department of microbiology and immunology.

Pathogenesis is the process by which virus infection leads to disease.

Inaugural Webster chair recipient Prof Andrew Mercer held the post from 2005 until he retired last year.

Prof Quinones-Mateu, who has a PhD from the Autonomous University of Madrid, said his work on emergent viruses that could threaten our biosecurity would involve using state-of-the-art genomics and bioinformatics methodologies.

At Otago he will continue to work on HIV and complete a series of studies related to drug resistance and latency to the disease in Africa and Asia.

He has invented a deep sequencing-based HIV-1 genotyping assay patented and being used in a clinical setting in the United States and Uganda.

Prof Quinones-Mateu has spent the past four years as associate professor at the department of pathology, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

The Webster Family Chair in Viral Pathogenesis was established in 2005 by Otago graduate and internationally respected virologist Prof Robert Webster and family.

Born in Balclutha, Prof Webster studied microbiology at Otago University, and later established one of the world's leading centres of influenza research at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, in the United States.

Although retired from research, he still writes about his career and virology, and his book Flu Hunter was launched in New Zealand last year.

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