Wesley I. Sundquist
Dr. Wesley I. Sundquist is the Co-Chair and Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Utah and a member of the Cell Response and Regulation Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute. Sundquist studies the molecular and structural biology of retroviruses, with an emphasis on HIV. Viruses are parasites, meaning they have to use cellular mechanisms to thrive. Sundquist’s research has therefore focused on understanding how HIV uses the host cell and then evaluating how that knowledge can be translated into therapies. An integrated approach combining structural and functional analysis enabled Sundquist to become a leader in the field by developing the fullerene cone model of the HIV-1 capsid, thereby explaining intrinsic architectural principles of retroviruses. The Sundquist laboratory also showed that HIV-1 budding is achieved by recruitment of the ESCRT pathway, identified components of this pathway in humans, and determined structures and mechanisms of pathway proteins. Sundquist’s research continues to focus understanding the architecture and assembly of the retroviral particles, the mechanisms of intrinsic host cell defenses, and the process of virus budding. In order to accomplish this, his lab draws on state-of-the-art approaches including NMR, EM, and crystallographic studies of viral complexes, biochemical analyses of the interactions between viral components and their cellular partners, and genetic analyses of viral protein functions. Sunquist’s numerous papers have been published in journals including Cell, Nature, and PNAS.