Dr. Molly D. Murphy, DVM, PhD

My research focuses on interactions between viruses and their vertebrate and invertebrate hosts. In my previous research projects, I investigated the molecular evolution of epizotic hemorrhagic disease virus in white-tailed deer over a 30-year period. I was (and am still) fascinated by the virus-host relationship.

In an effort to better understand the host contribution to a virus-host relationship, I attended veterinary school, with the intent of becoming an anatomic pathologist. Prior to, and during veterinary school, I worked with an exciting research group investigating the transmission of several high-impact diseases of wildlife and livestock, including vesicular stomatitis virus (at Plum Island Animal Disease Center), pseudorabies virus, epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus, bluetongue virus, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), and chronic wasting disease. Through these efforts, I became proficient at a number of molecular techniques which enable me to study microbial pathogenesis at the cellular and subcellular levels (including, but not limited to: cell culture, RT-PCR, Sanger sequencing, in-situ hybridization, Northern and Western blotting, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, etc).  Also at this time, next generation sequencing was developed such that (finally) minor genetic variants in viral populations could be rapidly characterized.

I completed a residency in anatomic pathology to develop a better understanding of the impact of disease on an ultrastructural, cellular, tissue, and organismal level.  I subsequently have attained proficiency in the recognition and pathogenesis of disease in a variety of mammalian and non-mammalian species.

In my current position, I endeavor to combine my two areas of expertise: molecular evolution and vertebrate pathology to investigate the relationship between viruses and the bat host. This host species is selected for several reasons (1) bats are an important link in the transmission of several high-impact diseases of humans and livestock, (2) the number and types of viruses carried by bats in Alaska is relatively unknown, (3) bats have life history features which make them an ideal model for the study of climate effects on virus population dynamics, including migration and hibernation, and a long lifespan in comparison to similarly sized mammals, (4) the ready availability of archived tissue specimens.