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Christopher Stobart

Associate Professor, Biology Biological Sciences - LAS
Christopher Stobart

Office Hours

Monday
  • from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Wednesday
  • from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Friday
  • from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM

Location

Gallahue Hall 043

cstobart@butler.edu
317-940-9587


Background

Dr. Stobart is a microbiologist specializing in virus structure, stability, and function. He received his B.S. degrees in biology and chemistry from Xavier University (Cincinnati, OH) in 2008 and his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) in 2013. His doctoral thesis was titled "Structural and Functional Analysis of Coronavirus Cysteine Protease nsp5" and was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Denison. He continued his research in virology by completing a postdoctoral research fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Martin Moore at Emory University (Atlanta, GA) where he played a central role in the development of a live-attenuated vaccine candidate for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a major human pathogen among infants and the elderly. Concurrent with his research training, he taught MCAT and DAT test-prep courses with The Princeton Review and was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Life and Earth Science at Georgia State University - Perimeter College (Dunwoody, GA) before joining the Butler University Department of Biological Sciences in the Fall of 2016.


Research

The Stobart lab aims to identify the fundamental structural and functional determinants that govern RNA virus environmental stability, infectivity, and replication. Studies in the lab focus on 3 different RNA virus systems: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus (hMPV), and mouse hepatitis virus (MHV). 


Pnuemoviruses - RSV and hMPV

RSV is a pneumovirus with a negative-strand RNA genome that is associated with upper and lower respiratory disease in young infants and the elderly. To date, RSV is a leading cause of viral mortality worldwide for children under age 1. Although RSV is a human pathogen, it rarely causes clinical disease in healthy adults due to pre-existing immunity. Despite over 50 years of research, there remains no commercially-available vaccines and considerable work is currently underway to develop one. We recently showed substantial differences in the stability of RSV strains to temperature and that the stability was dependent upon the virus attachment protein (F). Preliminary study of RSV identified mutations in the RSV fusion (F) protein that govern virus thermal stability and contribute to stabilizing the prefusion conformation, which is required for infectivity.  Current research projects on RSV will focus on examining the environmental stability of reconstituted RSV clinical strains and site-directed mutagenesis to identify key regulatory regions governing RSV stability and replication.

HMPV is a pneumovirus that is very closely-related to RSV and is also associated with upper and lower respiratory disease in young infants and the elderly. Discovered in 1989, very little is known regarding its environmental stability and there remain no vaccines available for the prevention of hMPV disease. Current research projects on hMPV will focus on examining the environmental stability of a panel of hMPV clinical isolates. These studies may provide new insight into mechanisms to create stable live-attenuated vaccine candidates and novel approaches to limit hMPV spread in high risk environments.


Coronaviruses

MHV is a viral model for coronavirus biology. Coronaviruses are associated with upper and lower respiratory disease and are the 3rd leading cause of the common cold. Recent outbreaks of SARS,  MERS, and Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), three emerging coronaviruses, highlight the pathogenic potential of coronavirus evolution. Our work focuses on understanding the relationship between structure and function of the coronavirus protease nsp5. This work aims to identify key molecular determinants that are critical for coronavirus replication and may be targeted for antiviral or inhibitor design.

Students interested in doing research in the Stobart lab are encouraged to contact Dr. Stobart directly.

Stobart Lab Website

Dr. Stobart's ResearchGate Profile