Dr. Omar Perez
PhD, PharmD
Assistant Professor
Department of Pathology



Room: 6135 COMRB
email: operez6@uic.edu
Phone: (312)413-9650
Phone: (312)355-3260

Rotation Projects

Our laboratory focuses on understanding the role of virus-host interaction in viral infection and pathogenesis. We incorporate systems virology, cell biology, bioinformatics and immunology approaches to achieve these goals. This research is combined with translational efforts to apply this knowledge for the repurposing and development of antiviral approaches to combat emerging viral infections, including Zika and other flaviviruses.

Rotation projects will focus on one of the areas below. Ongoing Projects:

1. We use single-virus tracking (SVT) techniques to monitor the infectious behavior of Zika virus (ZIKV), in order to dissect the dynamic interactions of ZIKV with cellular compartments for the release of viral genome in host cells, vRNA replication, virus assembly and egress from the cell, thus revealing the underlying mechanisms of ZIKV infection and replication.

2. It has been described that ZIKV impairs cell growth, raising a hypothesis about its oncolytic potential against cancer cells. ZIKV tumor cell growth inhibition was later confirmed for glioblastoma. This project aims at understanding the pathways that might be involved with the oncolytic and antiproliferative properties of Zika virus against prostate cancer cells.

3. The human placenta functions as a barrier and conduit between the maternal and fetal environments and protects the fetus from the spread of microorganisms. It remains unclear how ZIKV gains access to the fetal compartment or evades associated antiviral pathways. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop and characterize models for the study of ZIKV maternal– fetal transmission, and study the intracellular innate defense pathways by which restricts infection to limit fetal infection.