Pablo Moral-Lopez Ph.D.

Pablo Moral-Lopez grew up in the city of Madrid, but it was his family’s rural homeland in the north of Spain that made him fall in love with the natural world. He chose to study biology in college, and a series of experiences working in microbiology labs across the U.S. lead him to the fascinating world of viruses.

Today, Moral-Lopez is tapping into his love of virology as a postdoctoral researcher in John Parker’s lab. He is investigating reoviruses, a family of viruses that causes many respiratory and intestinal infections in people and animals. He is looking at how reoviruses take over the cell’s protein-making machinery to reproduce themselves.

Parker had discovered that reoviruses form “viral factories”, which are bodies within the cell where viruses replicate, assemble, and churn out new viral proteins. “This virus is hacking the cellular equipment so that those factories only produce viruses instead of the other things that the cell requires,” says Moral-Lopez. He is trying to find whether the reovirus can manipulate the cellular protein making machines, called ribosomes, so that only the virus can use them.

The Parker lab conducts research to reveal the basic underpinnings of how viruses function. The reovirus that Moral-Lopez works with is one that is being evaluated as a “drug” to kill cancer cells. The more that is known about how the virus works, the better we will be able to understand how to use it for cancer treatment.

“For me, the most beautiful part of this work is that it is focused on knowledge,” says Moral-Lopez. “Knowledge that is required in fields ranging from cancer therapy to biotechnology.”

Moral-Lopez has found the Parker lab and the Baker Institute to be a welcoming research home. He hopes to make a career in academia so that he can continue learning new things about the natural world, knowledge that can then directly impact lives.