Dr. Sharmila Nair joined the Department of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases as an Instructor in July, 2020.
Dr. Nair completed her Bachelor’s degree at the Amity University, India and a Masters degree at University of Bristol, UK. During her Masters, Sharmila conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew Davidson investigating interactions between host proteins and Dengue virus capsid protein in the nucleus. She then joined the Department of Innate Immunity and Infection at Helmholtz Center of Infection Research, Germany where she investigated antiviral responses in the CNS in the laboratory of Dr. Andrea Kroeger. During her doctoral thesis work, Sharmila discovered that the expression of the interferon regulatory factor-1 in the brain was crucial for protection against neurotropic VSV infection. She completed her Ph.D. in 2014 and was awarded the DFG fellowship from the German Research foundation to pursue post doctoral training in the laboratory of Michael Diamond at Washington University School of Medicine. During her postdoctoral studies, Sharmila used in vitro and in vivo infection models to investigate the mechanism of action of several antiviral factors that protect against arthritogenic alphavirus and flavivirus infections. Additionally, Sharmila expanded her research interests to include immune responses against bacterial infections and sought a collaboration with Dr. Christina Stallings, known for her work in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) research. Dr. Nair studied the role of mitochondrial protein-immune responsive gene (Irg)-1 in minimizing the pathological immune response that contributes to pulmonary disease caused during Mtb infection.
Currently, Dr. Nair is investigating the mechanisms of Zika virus-based oncolytic activity against glioblastoma and potential of combination therapies with checkpoint blockade (PD1) treatment and/or current radiation strategies as a new strategy to eradicate the tumor. Her current research interests also include defining the role of Staphylococcus colonization in control of skin viral infections. For this she is involved in developing a mouse model to examine the effect of Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epi) and Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) skin colonization on control of arthopod-borne (eg Chikungunya, Mayaro and West Nile virus as) and skin tropic viruses (eg. herpes simplex and Poxvirus).