Dr. Rockx's research interests are focused on virus-host interactions, molecular pathogenic mechanisms, and the host responses following emerging high containment virus infection. His research will focus on the development and characterization of in vivo and in vitro models of Hendra (HeV) and Nipah virus (NiV) infection. HeV and NiV are two members of the genus Henipavirus (family Paramyxoviridea) that cause respiratory illness and encephalitis in humans and a variety of other mammals. The goal of these projects is to understand how these viruses infect the respiratory tract and spread to the central nervous system and to identify differences in routes of transmission and pathogenesis between different HeV and NiV strains.
A second area of interest is the development and testing of broadly protective therapeutics. The high mutation rate and heterogeneity of emerging zoonotic viruses is a major problem in developing therapeutics and therefore a key objective is the development of broadly cross-reactive reagents that will maximize the likelihood of protection against unknown future strain variants.