Dr. Piya Paul Mudgal
Associate Professor, Manipal Institute of Virology
Manipal Academy of Higher Education
Dr. Piya Paul Mudgal is an Associate Professor in the Manipal Institute of Virology (MIV), Manipal Academy of Higher Education. She has been affiliated with MIV since May 2012, when she joined MIV as a research faculty in a government-funded multicentric project entitled “Evaluation and development of antiviral products from Herbal Source”. This project paved the way for her early induction into the field of virology and gave her a glimpse of the enormous opportunities of research in the specialized field of virology. During her tenure at MIV, she has applied for several grants on translational research in virology and has published review and research articles and has contributed to book chapters on varied topics, such as discoveries and developments in antiviral research, drug resistance, immunomodulation, and epidemiology of COVID-19. She is interested in areas related to antiviral drug discovery and development, immunomodulatory effects of potential antiviral molecules, and mechanisms of antiviral resistance. She envisions translating her knowledge and expertise into upgrading the existing research platform for antiviral testing and evaluation and establishing a state-of-the-art laboratory for conducting antiviral research in MIV. She would like to participate in advanced preclinical testing of vaccine candidates. Her pharmacological specialization has helped in planning and leading a range of preclinical research projects on evaluation of immunogenicity and safety of vaccine candidates in MIV. In addition, she guides postdoctoral and doctoral students on developing antiviral high-throughput screening platform; studying modulatory effects of biological proteins on virus infection and immunopathogenesis; antiviral application of derivatives of naturally occurring molecules; RNAi- mediated manipulation to control virus infection. She is a certified professional in Bio-risk Management by International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA).
What are you and your institution currently working on regarding COVID-19?
Manipal Institute of Virology is currently involved in the diagnosis of COVID-19 for symptomatic and travel related cases, by Real Time RT-PCR and serological assays. The faculty members has applied COVID-19 related grants to various national funding agencies. A few interesting multicentric projects submitted for funding in this area are Healthy-aging following Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 in aging population; Genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 from community and hospital wastewater treatment plants; and Study on measurement of Immune Responses in Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).
How did you learn and become interested in the GVN?
Manipal Institute of Virology is a Centre of Excellence in the Global Virus Network. The Centre Director, Dr Chiranjay Mukhopadhyay, shares the mail communications received from GVN to all faculty members periodically. MIV also receives information regarding the different online courses and webinar series from GVN. MIV also participates in various meetings. In June 2021, I learned about the Rising Star Program from my Centre Director, Dr Chiranjay Mukhopadhyay. I was selected for the program in August 2021. Thereafter, I have been made an integral part of the GVN team by receiving information on important announcements, grant opportunities, fellowship programs, and upcoming events such seminar series, conferences, workshops, etc. These platforms are instrumental in acquainting and network building with the eminent scientists across the world.
Please, elaborate on your specific virology research interests.
In the early years of my association with MIV, I have worked in two important antiviral projects, (i) Evaluation & development of antiviral products from Herbal Source; and (ii) Anti-Viral Ayurvedic Product Development and Coordination of Anti-Rabies in vivo Testing & Safety Studies, funded by ICMR/DHR, Government of India. Since 2012, I have been involved in teaching postdoctoral students, enrolled in the MSc Clinical Virology program of MIV. I have mentored these students through various research projects, such as in vitro antiviral and in vivo immunomodulatory effects of phenolic phytoconstituents; in vitro anti- adenoviral screening of kaempferol; phenotypic and genotypic characterization of Herpes Simplex Virus clinical samples for Acyclovir resistance; identifying analogues of anti-influenza drug Baloxavir marboxil – in silico and in vitro approach; and repurposing of approved target specific antivirals against dengue viruses. I am also mentoring doctoral students. I am involved in different doctoral research projects, such as Cloning and expression of chitin deacetylase towards antiviral application, RNAi-mediated manipulation of viral capsid and tegument protein expression to control Herpes Simplex Virus infection, Developing viral protein-based high throughput screening platforms for antiviral entities against neglected tropical viral diseases, Modulatory effects of Aedes aegypti salivary proteins on Chikungunya virus infection and immunopathogenesis, and Comprehensive mapping of host-viral response linked with disease severity against dengue virus infections in India.
Overview of the Manipal Institute of Virology (MIV)
Manipal Institute of Virology (MIV), Manipal is a centre for diagnostic virology and research activities, primarily focused to meet public health needs. MIV is an accredited laboratory under the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) in accordance with ISO 15189:2012 in the field of medical testing for the disciplines of Microbiology and Infectious disease serology and molecular testing. It is the one and only virus diagnostic laboratory in India with several serological and molecular tests included in its scope. MIV is also registered under the Karnataka Private Medical Establishment (KPME) (Amended) Act and Rules 2018 for providing medical services as a Medical Diagnostic Laboratory under Allopathy system of medicine. Currently, MIV is the Apex Referral Laboratory for Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis and Chikungunya under the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Govt. of India. MIV is also a Center of Excellence as awarded by the Global Virus Network.
MIV, equipped with a Biosafety level-2 (BSL-2) laboratory, is one of the premier virology research centers in India with the state-of-the-art infectious disease diagnostic facility, a blend of classical and advanced methods, that provides the capability to detect forty plus (40+) pathogenic viruses through a spectrum of serological (ELISA), molecular (Real Time PCR) and antigen detection assays. The laboratory caters to real time surveillance requirements of the region and partakes in outbreak investigations, thereby supporting public health beyond the four walls. MIV, as one of the best institutes in India, has the platform for cross-cutting in-depth research in the field of Influenza viruses, Herpes simplex viruses, Enteroviruses, Human Papilloma Virus, etc., and Neglected Tropical diseases. MIV has several ongoing research programs mainly focused on improving clinical diagnosis of viral diseases, infectious disease surveillance (influenza, hepatitis, chikungunya, dengue, and cervical cancer), and epidemiological studies including molecular epidemiology of emerging and re-emerging viral diseases. MIV enjoys excellent working relationship with national, state and district public health services across the country. MIV also has strong collaborations with international institutions. MIV has the uniqueness of hosting a public service program on a private platform and in a short span of time it has proven to be one of the best public private partnership towards the development of public health infrastructure in the country.