Postdoctoral Research Award 2015
Olivia Perwitasari, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of infectious diseases, has made remarkable contributions to the field of antiviral therapeutics and the host-virus interactions to govern infection outcome. Her work at UGA has focused on the repurposing of available drugs as new influenza treatments. Because many of these existing drugs have already passed safety studies, they can enter later stages of clinical trials without the same time and financial commitments required to develop new drugs. Perwitasari uses RNA interference screens to discover targets on a variety of viruses that may affect their ability to replicate. In her studies, she has identified verdinexor, which is currently undergoing final stages of clinical evaluation in dogs suffering from lymphoma, as a potential antiviral therapeutic. The drug is effective against multiple influenza strains, including influenza A and B, the pandemic 2009 H1N1, a highly pathogenic avian H5N1 and recently emerging H7N9 influenza virus strains.