Dr. Vicky van Santen has been a faculty member in the Department of Pathobiology since 1988. She earned her Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago in 1982. Her dissertation research dealt with characterization of Epstein-Barr virus mRNAs expressed in latently-infected Epstein-Barr virus-transformed cells. During her post-doctoral training in the Laboratory of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she investigated the mechanism of higher eukaryotic pre-mRNA splicing. After joining the Auburn University Department of Pathobiology, she initially investigated regulation of gene expression of bovine herpesvirus 4 (BHV-4) and later worked with Dr. Gaetano Donofrio of the University of Parma to establish in vitro models of BHV-4 latent infection. More recently, she has focused on avian viruses important in the poultry industry, especially the immunosuppressive circovirus chicken anemia virus and the coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus.
In the college biomedical sciences graduate program, she teaches mRNA transcription, processing, and nuclear export sections of Eukaryotic Molecular Biology and coordinates and teaches in Advanced Eukaryotic Molecular Biology. She also teaches a Molecular Virology course in the graduate program. As chair of the graduate student affairs committee of the interdisciplinary Cell and Molecular Biosciences program, she coordinates the journal club for the first semester Cell and Molecular Biosciences Ph.D. students.
Molecular virology, viral diseases of poultry, chicken anemia virus, infectious bronchitis virus, host/viral interactions, effect of immunosuppressive viruses on pathogenesis of other infectious agents, viral variation, host selection of viral variants.
The general areas of research interest of our laboratory include avian viral diseases and host/pathogen interaction at both the cellular and organismal levels.
We are currently focusing on host selection of infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) vaccine subpopulations and interactions of IBV spike proteins with host receptors.