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Friday, December 2, 2022

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Dwayne Roach Dwayne Roach

SDSU Appoints Conrad Prebys Chair in Virology

Dwayne Roach will join a community of scientists exploring the impact of microbial viruses on human health.
By Jeff Ristine

“The opportunity to join the Viral Information Institute and its world-renowned faculty was a big factor in my decision to join SDSU.”

Dwayne Roach, a virologist who previously studied virus-host immunity interactions at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, has been appointed to a newly endowed faculty position in biomedical research at San Diego State University.

Roach started this month as the Conrad Prebys Chair in Virology, joining the Department of Biology’s Viral Information Institute. The chair was established by a $2.5 million endowment in 2014 from the late Conrad Prebys, who also gave SDSU $20 million to support student scholarships, including biomedical research scholars.

“The opportunity to join the Viral Information Institute and its world-renowned faculty was a big factor in my decision to join SDSU,” said Roach. “The institute has a strong community of scientists from diverse fields including data science, evolutionary biology, genetics, mathematics physics, and cell biology. SDSU is a very exciting place to begin my independent research career.”

The institute’s mission is to understand the impact of microbial viruses in human health and ecosystems at a multi-scale level, combining cutting-edge research in microbiology, molecular and cellular biology, ecology, evolution, environmental science, biophysics, mathematical modeling, and computer science.

Roach’s research, focused on the intersection of bacteriophage biology, infectious diseases and human and animal immunology, will be part of an effort toward the design of new bacteriophage-based therapies to treat antibiotic-resistant infections and identify new diagnostic microbiomarkers of disease.

“Finding someone with Dr. Roach's unique qualifications was a challenge that took three years of searching,” said biology professor Forest Rohwer. “We really wanted to hire someone who could bridge the gap between basic science and translational medicine. Dr. Roach is one of the world's experts in this area, and we are extraordinarily lucky to have him join us at SDSU.”
Roach obtained his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Brock University in Ontario, Canada, where he studied the molecular mechanisms of bacterial resistance to bacteriophage infection. His first postdoctoral appointment was at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Biosciences and Biotechnology Laboratory. In 2013, he took a second postdoctoral position at Michigan State University, and in 2014 he went to the Department of Microbiology at the Pasteur Institute, a nonprofit private foundation, where he eventually became a research associate.

“In endowing this new faculty position, Conrad Prebys made a powerful investment in SDSU’s aspirations as a research university,” said Mary Ruth Carleton, vice president for University Relations and Development. “The combination of a top-tier virologist and student researchers supported by scholarships is sure to produce impressive results.” 

Roach’s lab at SDSU is located in the in the Conrad Prebys Viromics Center at the Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex, which opened in January.

The Conrad Prebys Endowed Chair is the largest endowed faculty position at SDSU.