Congratulations to Tyler Mrozowich, a PhD student in Dr. Trushar Patel’s laboratory at the Alberta RNA Research and Training Institute and the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. He is a recipient of the prestigious and highly competitive NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral program.

Mrozowich studies flaviviruses. These viruses contain ribonucleic acids (RNA) as their genetic material and include deadly viruses such as Japanese encephalitis, Dengue, West Nile and Zika virus. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control suggest that flaviviruses are a global health concern because of their transmission by mosquitoes and a lack of efficient therapeutic strategies. The Japanese encephalitis virus infects more than 68,000 humans each year and has a mortality rate of approximately 30 percent, with another 30 to 50 percent of cases resulting in serious long-term disabilities. These viruses have a complex reproductive cycle involving many human proteins, some of which aid and some which hinder viral replication.

Mrozowich will perform extensive biophysical studies to understand the mode of recognition between the specific regions of Japanese encephalitis viral genome and human RNA helicases that aid viral replication. This work will provide opportunities to develop targeted drug discovery tools in the future. His research is timely and important because it will increase our understanding of viral replication.