Vitae spring/summer 2009, Vol. 31 No. 3 


Jason P. Laliberte, PhD ’08spr sum alumni laliberte

Jason Laliberte, PhD, is currently a resident of Washington, D.C., and says that he hopes to “get a run in with some of the local rugby clubs.” Until then, this lover of doing battle on the sports field is fighting a different one in the laboratories of the National Institutes of Health.

As a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Bernard Moss’ group at the Laboratory of Viral Diseases within the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Laliberte is studying vaccinia virus and the molecular mechanisms the virus uses to enter host cells. He hopes to identify and define the factors on the virus itself and those on the cell that are necessary for vaccinia to gain entry and initiate its replicative life cycle. “As the prototypic member of the Poxviridae family of large DNA viruses, vaccinia virus remains quite relevant due to its use as the vaccine against the smallpox virus—a potential bioterrorism agent,” explained Laliberte.

Although there hasn’t been a “eureka moment” yet, Laliberte said his post-doctoral experience has revealed the first encouraging result to come from his project. “Our initial thoughts regarding the question we were asking have been confirmed and have led to a series of more exciting experiments and results to support our ideas on how the virus may be entering cells.” 

Before starting his work at the NIH, Laliberte expected to find a number of scientific, technical and career development resources to foster his training. He has indeed discovered that guiding post-doctoral fellows is one of the NIH’s highest priorities.  

This is similar to his experience at the GSBS, Laliberte noted, as the school provided the opportunity to choose from a variety of quality research areas and laboratories in which to perform his thesis work. “The GSBS, and certainly the Immunology and Virology Program where I had great scientific mentors, prepared me well in that I was exposed to many of the facets of what it is to be a good research scientist. I was trained to conduct quality independent research and to effectively communicate my science to my peers in the form of scientific manuscripts and presentations.  The skills I learned in these areas were crucial to my development.”

Working at the NIH is truly a testament to Laliberte’s achievements so far. 


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