Gudepalya Renukaiah Rudramurthy’s project during his Fulbright-Nehru fellowship at the U.S. CDC supported his interest in researching viral diseases.
I was a Fulbright-Nehru postdoctoral research fellow from 2018 to 2020 at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, within the CDC’s Poxvirus and Rabies Branch, Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology. The project, in collaboration with National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS-NIH), was aimed at screening and characterizing small molecule inhibitors against the rabies virus.
Rabies remains a major public health concern in India and other developing countries. The virus has the highest case fatality rate of any disease or agent after symptoms onset. Currently, there is no approved antiviral treatment against the rabies virus. For health practitioners and researchers to significantly decrease the fatality rate in rabies endemic countries, efforts towards the identification, characterization and development of effective antiviral drugs against the rabies virus must be pursued.
At CDC, I was involved in several research activities on rabies including antiviral screening, the study of the mechanism of growth of the disease, the development of high capacity diagnostics, and identification of host factors through CRISPR-Cas technology, a genome editing method. Small molecules obtained from NCATS-NIH were screened at CDC through a high capacity high technique, which allows a researcher to quickly conduct a larger number of tests, using recombinant rabies viruses.
The Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship has given me a big breakthrough in establishing my scientific career. I was invited by Kansas State University, through the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship’s Outreach Lecturing Fund, to deliver a lecture on anti-rabies virus research. The faculty host at CDC, Dr. Subbian Satheshkumar Panayampalli, was very generous and supportive and helped me during all the tough times. The support received from the United States-India Educational Foundation and the Institute of International Education team throughout the fellowship program is highly appreciable.
I received my Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad (JNTU-H). My doctoral research was carried out at ICAR - National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Disease Informatics (ICAR-NIVEDI), Bengaluru, under the supervision of principal scientist Dr. P.P. Sengupta. My doctoral research was aimed at the development of molecular diagnostics against trypanosomosis, including PCR-based diagnostics and serological diagnostics exploring recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies.
Currently, I am working as a scientist (virology) at the Foundation for Neglected Disease Research (FNDR), Bengaluru. FNDR hosts well-established research laboratories, known as BSL-2 and BSL-3, where research takes place to increase knowledge of the neglected diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and other infectious organisms. At FNDR, I am leading the division of virology and my responsibilities include the setup of BSL-2 and BSL-3 virology research laboratories, identification and characterization of antivirals and expansion of the scope of virology research.
The current area of virology research at FNDR includes the development of a rigorous antiviral screening platform for the current pandemic COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2. I am involved in the in-vitro screening and characterization of antivirals including novel and repurposed drugs against SARS-CoV 2. Further, I am working on the development and validation of animal infection models for SARS-CoV 2 pre-clinical studies. FNDR is aimed at expanding virology research and drug discovery into many other viral diseases including rabies and dengue.
Gudepalya Renukaiah Rudramurthy is a scientist (virology) at the Foundation for Neglected Disease Research, Bengaluru. He was a Fulbright-Nehru postdoctoral research fellow from 2018 to 2020 at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.