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Leading virologist to establish new COVID-19 focused group 

  • Date

    Fri 29 May 20

Portrait of Stathis Giotis

Dr Stathis Giotis will join the School of Life Sciences in July to establish a new research group with a primary focus on SARS-CoV-2, the virus strain that causes COVID-19.

With a background in veterinary medicine, Dr Giotis’s expertise focuses on the cross species transmission of viruses. His recent work has concentrated on the mechanisms that the bat influenza H17N10 virus utilises to enter into the cells of mammals.

His research has found that cell entry is enabled by the MHC class-II HLA-DR receptor suggesting that the bat H17N10 virus possesses zoonotic potential (the ability to spread from animals to humans).

“I am fascinated by the complexity of the mechanisms that zoonotic viruses use to invade cells and evade the immune surveillance systems of the host,” explained Dr Giotis. “I am particularly interested in the viral and host factors that allow viruses such as influenza viruses and coronaviruses to jump from animals to humans and cause disease.”

With SARS-CoV2/COVID-19 being the number one challenge to human health worldwide, his research group at Essex will focus on the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the mechanisms that the virus uses to evade or exaggerate host immune responses and identifying factors that make people more susceptible to virus infection and increase the risk of life-threatening complications.   

Currently at Imperial College London (ICL), Dr Giotis already collaborates with several Essex researchers as well as scientists at the University of Kent, which together with Essex and the University of East Anglia forms the Eastern Arc research network.

Dr Giotis is currently applying for research grants to work on COVID-19 projects and is already doing some preliminary work at ICL.