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Juan Zapata received his bachelor degree 1995 as Microbiologist and Clinic Laboratorist from the University of Antioquia (Colombia). Then in 1999 he earned his master degree in Virology, from the same university, conducting a serological and virological survey of Bovine Herpesvirus in Colombian cattle. At the same time he worked as a virology teacher in the School of Medicine. In 2001 Juan Zapata joined the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland as assistant researcher. Since then has contributed in the development of animal models for Lassa hemorrhagic fever, Lassa vaccines development, and biomarkers research for respiratory and hemorrhagic fever infections. Currently, Juan Zapata is a research specialist and in June of 2013 he will receive his PhD degree for his work in the characterization of a reassortant vaccine candidate that protects against Lassa hemorrhagic fever.
Juan Zapata main interest is to study the virus-host interactions using animal models, genomic profiling, and basic molecular virology. Focused not only in the host responses but also in the changes that occur in the viral population in order to describe virus-host coevolution. Those changes can result not only in the development of new viral therapues but also will explain the viral pathogenesis and the induction of protective immune responses. Our laboratory has developed two Lassa vaccine platforms.One is reassorten virues called ML29 that conffer complete immunity to the vaccinated animals and the second one is the Yellow Fever vaccine (YF17D) expressing Lassa antigens. Since YF17D is already FDA approved the security profile of this vaccine candidate is very high. Additionaly, he is interested in the interaction between hemorrhagic viruses and platelets and their role in the pathogenesis the coagultion disorders.