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Alex Evilevitch


Address and Contact Information

2001 South Lincoln Avenue
M/C 002
Urbana, IL  61802


Postdoctoral fellowship, University of California-Los Angeles, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry

PhD, Physical Chemistry, Lund University, Sweden

MSc, Physical Chemistry, Lund University, Sweden

Academic Positions

  • Associate Professor, Department of Experimental Medical Science, Lund University, Sweden
  • Associate Professor, Physics Department, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Senior Researcher, Swedish Research Council (Rådsforskare)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology, Center for Molecular Protein Science, Lund University, Sweden
  • Visiting Professor at Scripps Research Institute (Automated Imaging Group, Dept. of Cell Biology), La Jolla, Calif.

Research Interests

My research is in the area of Virus Biophysics. Research focuses on key physical mechanisms for infectivity and replication of double-stranded DNA and RNA viruses. Experimental model systems used in my group are dsDNA bacteriophages (phage lambda and phage T5), human Herpes viruses (e.g. HSV-1) and human Rotaviruses (dsRNA).

I am specifically interested in physical mechanisms of DNA packaging and ejection from viral capsids, viral packaging motors, DNA structural transitions inside the capsids associated with infection, viral DNA ejection dynamics, assembly and mechanical stability of viral capsids, effects of molecular crowding on viral DNA ejection and viral replication in vivo, viral DNA condensation.

My current research direction is centered around my laboratory’s discovery of high internal DNA pressure inside human Herpesvirus capsids. This DNA pressure reaches tens of atmospheres! The internal genome pressure is generated by strong repulsive interactions between tightly packaged, negatively charged DNA strands as well as DNA bending energy. We found that this mechanical DNA pressure is responsible for initiation of viral infection.

Also central to my group is the direct link between virus biophysics and molecular genetics. The ability to selectively modify viral genes of interest allows identification of specific protein domains required for DNA encapsidation and retention during capsid assembly and viral capsid maturation. My laboratory has the unique capability to perform both single molecule and bulk measurements on viruses under controlled solution conditions. The main techniques are atomic force microscopy, ultra-sensitive microcalorimetry, fluorescence microscopy, light scattering, solution X-ray and neutron scattering.

Honors and Awards

2008  Sven och Ebba-Christina Hagberg’s Prize in Biochemistry and Medicine from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Karolinska University (Stockholm) for outstanding research achievements.

2005 Akzo Nobel Nordic Science Prize for the research in Physical Chemistry of Viruses, Sweden.

2004 The UCLA Chancellor’s Award for Postdoctoral Research with Exceptional Accomplishments in research in 2004.

2003  The 2003 Hebert Newby McCoy Award, in recognition of making the most important contribution from the UCLA department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 2003.

2002-2004  Award for Postdoctoral Research from STINT (The Swedish Foundation of International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education).

1996  Karin Kapuzinet research scholarship for outstanding students from Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.

1993  Berzelius Award in Chemistry from Royal School of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.

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