Graduate Students

Harmit Malik

A major interest in the lab involves the study of mobile genetic elements and viruses, most especially retroviruses, and host antiviral defenses against them. Mobile genetic elements are ubiquitous and constitute large fractions of eukaryotic genomes. They are the classical example of genomic 'mercenaries', interested in their own evolutionary success. The Malik lab studies the evolutionary origins of different classes of transposable elements and their consequences to host fitness and genome organization. They are using a combination of functional and evolutionary/ computational tools to identify and also study the innate defense strategies against retroviruses in primate genomes. They are also seeking to expand their survey to include putative strategies against all viruses that affect primates. A particular areas of focus includes the antiviral defense genes, including the TRIM, APOBEC, ZAP and cyclophilin gene families, as well as the identification of novel antiviral genes. These studies are being pursued in close collaboration with the Emerman and Geballe labs, including co-mentoring of trainees.