About the Lab

As a part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Pathology Department, the Cherry Lab is interested in genetic and mechanistic studies of viral-host interactions. The Lab uses chemical and genetic screening technologies to explore the interface between viruses and hosts. The laboratory performs a wide array of cell-based screens in human and insect cells studying emerging viruses with a historical focus on arthropod-borne viruses such as chikungunya and zika virus. Innate immunity is the first line of defense against viruses and much of the recognition of these invaders is at the level of nucleic acid recognition. Arthropod-borne human viruses are RNA viruses and we are examining the role of RNA binding proteins and the RNA decay machinery in innate antiviral defense against these viruses in human cells. Since these viruses can infect diverse tissues we are also exploring antiviral innate signaling activities in distinct cell types including neurons, endothelial cells and myeloid lineages. We have demonstrated cell-type specific immune pathways. Moreover, as these arthropod-borne viruses infect the vector insect enterically, we use Drosophila to model these intestinal infections to explore the role of the microbiota and innate defenses in the gut in the response to enteric arboviral infections. Projects include understanding how dysbiosis impacts susceptibility and discovering the bacterial products that impact infection. The recent coronavirus pandemic has led us to use our screening technologies to identify drugs that have antiviral activity as well as the role of innate pathways in controlling infection of SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory cells. The laboratory has many projects exploring diverse areas of viral-host interactions and innate immunity. 

In addition, the Cherry lab has extended their studies to precision medicine and oncology. In collaborations across UPENN including the high-throughput screening core, oncologists and pathologists the lab has developed a pipeline to test patient tumor cells for sensitivities to chemotherapeutics in an effort to personalize treatments. Work in acute myelogenous leukemia has demonstrated clear differences in patient responses and has uncovered new dependencies that will be translated into new treatment strategies in the future.

NEWS
August
2021
 We wish the best to our technician Mark Dittmar as he begins grad school at UPENN!                                                                                                                                                                           
August
2021
We welcome Alex Huber as a new technician to our lab!                                                                                                                                                                        
August
2021
We welcome Jesse Hulahan as a new technician to our lab!                                                                                                                                                                     
   July
2021
We welcome BMB Graduate student Rachel Braun to our lab!                                                                                                  
July
2021
We welcome CAMB graduate student Jorge Acuna to our lab!                                                                                                                              
July
2021
Sara discusses antivirals with Scientific American: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/there-are-few-good-covid-antivirals-but-that-could-be-changing/