RNA-genome tobacco mosaic virus shown in red, protein shown in blue. The RNA is normally completely coated and the virions can remain stable in solution for decades. Reference Citation: Namba, K., Pattanayek, R., Stubbs, G. (1989) Visualization of protein-nucleicacid interactions in a virus. Refined structure of intact tobacco mosaic virus at 2.9 A resolution by X-ray fiber diffraction. J. Mol Biol. 208-307. More information about the virus can be found on the Protein Data Bank site PDB entry code 2TMV (Image provided by: Jean-Yves Sgro, Institute for Molecular Virology).

Viruses remain one of the greatest public health challenges, causing an amazing variety of diseases and increasingly threatening deadly, globe-spreading pandemics like Ebola.  Viruses also cause at least 15% of human cancers, are suspected to contribute to neurological other chronic diseases, and are rising as bioterrorism threats.  New pathogenic viruses like HIV, MERS, Zika, etc. are emerging at an accelerating pace, driven by increasing human population density, wild habitat encroachment, phenomenal viral mutation rates and other trends. In parallel, viruses are a major source of insights into normal cell biology, and provide expanding tools for biomedicine, biotechnology and nanotechnology. 

Drawing on widely recognized UW-Madison strengths in virology and associated fields, the CMB Virology Focus Group comprises a large set of interactive laboratories including leaders engaged in pioneering studies of the mechanisms of viral evolution, replication, gene expression, host interactions, pathogenesis, control and other issues. Students in the Virology Program join a diverse, supportive and collaborative research community using and developing cutting-edge approaches in genomics, genome-wide molecular genetics, computational biology and bioinformatics, live cell and cryo-electron microscopy, structural biology, and other fields. Campus strengths in virology are further illustrated and CMB Virology Program activities are enhanced by highly productive interactions with groups such as the Human Cancer Virology Program of the UW Carbone Cancer Center, UW’s Institute for Molecular Virology and Global Health Institute, and the Rowe Center for Research in Virology at the Morgridge Institute for Research.