GVN Center and Member Spotlight

April 14, 2022 – GVN SPOTLIGHT ON: Dr. A.J. te Velthuis

Dr. A.J. te Velthuis
Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology
Princeton, Department of Molecular Biology

Dr te Velthuis uses virology, molecular biology, structural biology, and single-molecule techniques to study the replication and transcription processes of influenza and coronaviruses. His research focusses on understanding the mechanism of action of antivirals, such as favipiravir. Specifically, he is interested in to understand how aberrant RNA synthesis by emerging RNA viruses affects our innate immune response and how the insertions and mutations arise in viral RNA genomes.

Dr te Velthuis discovered that short viral RNA molecules called mini viral RNAs are produced by emerging influenza A virus strains, and these are able to induce strong innate immune responses during the infection. He also discovered that the mechanism underlying activation of the immune response is dependent on RNA structures that stall the viral replication complex. He collaborated with Dr Wendy Barclay to demonstrate how influenza A viruses become resistant to favipiravir. Dr te Velthuis was awarded Henry Dale and Henry Wellcome Fellowships from the Wellcome Trust, and Toptalent and Rubicon Awards from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research. In addition, his research has been funded by the Royal Society, National Institutes of Health, Dutch Organization for Health Research, and the Isaac Newton Trust. He also received awards and grants for his teaching videos and online outreach projects, including an OxTalent award and funding from the British Society for Immunology.

Biosketch

Dr te Velthuis obtained his PhD on SARS-CoV RNA synthesis and magnetic tweezers in the labs of Eric Snijder and Nynke Dekker at the Universities of Leiden and Delft, respectively. He received his postdoctoral training on influenza A virus RNA synthesis and single-molecule FRET in the labs of Ervin Fodor and Achilles Kapanidis at the University of Oxford. He became a PI at University Cambridge in 2017, and subsequently at Princeton University in 2021.

About Princeton’s Department of Molecular Biology

Department of Molecular Biology is a world-class department within this university. Our faculty have won numerous prestigious awards (including the Nobel Prize and the Macarthur Genius award), are presidents of societies, editors of professional journals, and at least 10 are members of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. All do service work for their professions by being on journal editorial boards, serve on NIH study sections, and on various scientific advisory boards and foundations.

The department faculty are diverse in their research interests in molecular, cell, and systems biology ranging from studies with viruses, bacteria and yeast to research with worms, flies, fish, and mice. Many of our faculty have joint appointments in the Lewis Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics or the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. At least 12 colleagues from other departments such as Physics, Chemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Computer Sciences, and Chemical and Biological Engineering participate in our graduate program by teaching and training students. The facile interactions among departments and institutes provide an exceptional environment for training students and doing research.

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