All scientific staff – University of Copenhagen

ISIM-UK > Staff > Scientific

Santseharay Ramirez Almeida

Santseharay Ramirez Almeida

Associate Professor

Primary fields of research

My main area of research is the study of viruses. I have been interested in viruses for as long as I can remember, so it was an obvious choice for me to join a virology program for my undergraduate studies. It all started with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) a viral disease that causes 500,000 deaths every year.

During my Master and PhD studies, I had the privilege to be a member of the viral hepatitis unit at IDIBAPS-Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, a well-integrated team of clinicians and researchers creating a great environment for translational science. There I conducted studies about genetic evolution of HCV and viral and host determinants of infection recurrence in liver transplantation patients. Afterwards I looked for basic science and the opportunity to study viruses in culture. HCV still fascinated me, so I decided to continue with a postdoc in the HCV field, and relocate to the Copenhagen Hepatitis C Program (CO-HEP) in Denmark, a world leader in basic research on HCV. At CO-HEP I focused on basic aspects of the molecular biology of HCV, including the development of novel experimental systems. A challenge stood ahead: developing robust culture systems for the major genotypes of HCV, a virus that does not grow in vitro. After some time of hard and tenacious work we made a breakthrough developing full-length infectious cell culture systems of the major HCV genotypes, which are highly appreciated in the field. I am now focusing in the work with polymerase inhibitors, which led to a recent proof-of-concept finding: HCV can evolve to develop resistance to sofosbuvir (the blockbuster of HCV therapy). This drug class targets conserved elements critical for replication of RNA viruses, thus exhibiting broad-spectrum antiviral activity, a trend in antiviral research. One of the most relevant questions about these antivirals is if they will be able to neutralize the vast genetic evolution potential of viruses to evade antiviral strategies, or if in contrast, their broader spectrum comes at the cost of lower barrier to resistance? Currently, I am establishing a group at CO-HEP aiming at studying universal antivirals across RNA viruses, with the prospect of defining better antivirals that can address the global challenge of viral emerging diseases, and mimic the successful drug development for HCV, our model virus.

Current research

Development of cell culture systems for the study of HCV in vitro

Study of the molecular mechanisms of antiviral resistance against drugs used in the treatment of HCV

Study of the barrier to resistance of different classes of polymerase inhibitors with universal activity across RNA viruses

Teaching

 Lab Courses

Virology Courses (Øvelseskursus Virologi) for medical school students at PANUM, University of Copenhagen. (2016).

 Lectures at the Course In Immunology And General Microbiology (Modul: 3908-E16), KU

 Lectures / Teaching at CO-HEP

 Weekly meeting with the members of the CO-HEP research group (2009-present)

 Lectures / Teaching at the Department of Infectious Diseases, Hvidovre Hospital:

Meeting with medical personnel (2009-present)

Lectures at the Department Research Days

 Current teaching and supervision of students, scientists, and technicians:

Amanda Gammelby Qvesel. Bachelor Project in Molecular Biomedicine

Carlota Fernandez Antunez (B.Sc). Master Program in Biology (Microbiology)

Lotte Mikkelsen. Laboratory technician.

 

Possible conflicts of interest

None

ID: 124402420