Q: Please tell us about yourself – where did you live before Seattle and what were you doing?
A: For the past six years I have been living in Cincinnati, OH attending the University of Cincinnati to obtain my degree in Biomedical Engineering and working. I volunteered in a hepatology research group studying viral hepatitis for two years as an undergraduate and then spent another year and a half post-graduation as a technician in the same group while applying to graduate school.
Q: What’s your academic focus and what research are you doing as a Research Assistant (RA)?
A: My academic focus is in virology – I am interested in viral evolution, virus genetic diversity, and antiviral drug resistance. Currently, I am in my first rotation lab working on assessing these compounds that have been found to have a similar chemical structure to a known antiviral used in Russia and China to treat influenza called Arbidol. In addition to influenza viruses, Arbidol has been found to have antiviral activity against several other viruses including poliovirus, rhinovirus, chikungunya virus, and hepatitis B and C viruses. The goal of my project is to determine if these Arbidol “look-a-likes” have any antiviral properties against Zika virus.
Q: What’s been the most valuable part of your Research Assistantship thus far?
A: Having the chance to work with a different research group and learn new techniques and skills each quarter of my first year is an invaluable experience for both personal and professional growth. The most valuable part of my Research Assistantship thus far has been the opportunity to meet with a wide variety of experts in different fields while determining my research rotations labs. Although I can only have three research rotation mentors, I feel as though each person I get the chance to sit down with is a potential mentor.
Ceejay Boyce is a recipient of the Department of Global Health Graduate School Fund for Excellence and Innovation (GSFEI) Top Scholar Award.