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Jan 19, 2023

TRS Seminar Series on Coronaviruses (2023-01-19)

School of Biomedical Sciences is pleased to invite you to join the following seminar:

Title: Infection of primary nasal epithelial cells differentiates among human coronaviruses
Speaker: Professor Susan Weiss, Vice Chair, Department of Microbiology; Vice Chair for Faculty Development; Co-Director, Penn Center for Research on Coronaviruses and Other Emerging Pathogens, University of Pennsylvania

Date: 19 January 2023 (Thursday)
Time: 9:30 am – 10:30 am

Zoom link
Meeting ID: 973 0856 5938
Password: 398634

Supported by:

  • Department of Microbiology, School of Clinical Medicine, HKUMed
  • Theme-based Research Program (T11-709/21-N) on "Ecology, Molecular Virology and Pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2"
  • State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases, HKU
  • Center for Virology, Vaccinology and Therapeutics (CVVT), InnoHK@HKUMed


Professor Susan Weiss

Professor Susan Weiss obtained her PhD in Microbiology from Harvard University working on paramyxoviruses and did postdoctoral training in retroviruses at University of California, San Francisco. She came to the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) as an Assistant Professor in 1980, and is currently Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Microbiology and Co-director of the Penn Center for Research on Coronaviruses and Other Emerging Pathogens at the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn. She previously served as Associate Dean for Biomedical Postdoc Programs (2010-2019). She has worked on many aspects of coronavirus replication and pathogenesis over the last forty years, making contributions to understanding the basic biology as well as viral entry, organ tropism and virulence.  This work focused for many years on the murine coronavirus (MHV) mouse model of hepatitis. More recently she has work on SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV and since 2020 also on SARS-CoV-2, as well as the “common” coronaviruses. Her work for the last ten years has focused on coronavirus interaction with the host innate immune response, viral antagonists of double-stranded RNA induced antiviral pathways and interactions with the unfolded protein responses. Most recent work also focusses on coronavirus infection of the nasal epithelium, the earliest site of infection. Her other research interests include activation and antagonism of the double-stranded RNA induced antiviral responses, with a focus on the oligoadenylate-ribonuclease L (OAS-RNase L) pathway, flavivirus- primarily Zika-virus-host interactions and pathogenic effects of host endogenous dsRNA.


The nasal epithelium is the initial portal of entry and primary barrier to infection by all human coronaviruses. We have utilized primary nasal epithelial cells grown at air-liquid interface (ALI), which recapitulate the functions of the in vivo nasal epithelium, to compare lethal SARS-2 and MERS and seasonal NL63 and 229E. While all viruses replicate productively, they display different cellular tropisms, temperature optima, and extents of cytopathology. NL63 and 229E which are primarily  upper respiratory viruses,  produce disruption of the epithelial barrier and induce IFN during infection of the nasal cells while MERS, which causes lethal pneumonia produces a more stealth infection with little cytotoxicity. SARS-2 is intermediate in phenotype consistent with its range of infection including both the upper respiratory tract and the lung. Finally, treatment of these cultures with IL-13 to mimic the asthmatic airway promotes increased replication of MERS and 229E and in contrast reduced replication of SARS-2 and NL63.



Should you have any enquiries, please feel free to contact Miss Angela Wong at 3917 9216.