Search Close Search
Search Close Search
Page Menu

Megan Orzalli, PhD

Megan OrzalliBy Merin C. MacDonald | Date published: November 23, 2022

November Researcher Spotlight: Megan Orzalli, PhD

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we highlight the work of Megan Orzalli, PhD, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology and Program in Innate Immunity.

Dr. Orzalli’s research primarily focuses on understanding how non-hematopoietic cells contribute to antiviral immunity in human skin and how viruses modulate signaling pathways in these cell types to subvert the host immune response. She and members of her lab study a variety of viral pathogens, including herpes simplex virus 1 and vesicular stomatitis virus, to gain insight into common and unique strategies employed by the host to defend against distinct viruses. In addition, her laboratory uses human skin equivalents (HSEs) to study cell-to-cell communication in human skin following viral infection and in response to inflammatory stimuli. HSEs are in vitro tissues that consist of a stratified squamous epithelium grown at an air-liquid interface on a collagen matrix populated with dermal fibroblasts. These tissues provide an in vivo-like system to study biologically meaningful crosstalk between the epidermis and dermis of human skin.

Dr. Orzalli joined the faculty at UMass Chan Medical School in 2019. Since her arrival, her work has been enriched by the strength of collaborative relationships that she has built within the Department of Medicine, as well as interdepartmentally. On this, she commented, “I think my favorite thing about working at UMass Chan is the collaborative nature of the researchers.”

Dr. Orzalli earned her PhD in Virology at Harvard University and her BS in Microbiology at the University of Washington in Seattle. She completed postdoctoral studies in the labs of Dr. Jonathan Kagan at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dr. David Knipe at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Orzalli is currently PI on a Smith Family Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research where she is investigating “The role of tonic interferon signaling in cutaneous antiviral defense.” She has also been the recipient of honors including a Pathway to Independence Award from the NIH and the Bernard N. Fields Prize in Microbiology and Immunobiology from Harvard Medical School.

Learn more about Dr. Orzalli.

Return to Researcher Spotlights - All