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Janae Baptiste

Janae Baptiste

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Area of Doctoral Study: Biochemistry

Undergraduate Institute: University of West Florida

Research Advisor: Dr. Michael F. Summers

Description of Research

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a global health issue that has infected more than 40 million people. Drug resistance and intolerance to current treatment demonstrates the necessity for novel therapeutics, but advancement to that end has been limited by absence of an appropriate animal model. A good animal model is necessary to allow for more invasive investigation of the virus and a platform for pre-clinical testing of prospective treatments. Because of strong resemblance between the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and HIV, felines offer potential as animal models for HIV in humans. Evidence demonstrating functional similarities between HIV-1 matrix protein (MA) and FIV MA suggests that further characterization of FIV MA may lead to identification of a new drug target to be studied in felines. The goals of my project are to determine the three-dimensional solution structure of FIV MA and to characterize its function. Ultimately, this work may present avenues for development of HIV therapies.