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Eric DelwartEric Delwart, PhD

Current Positions:

  • Senior Investigator, BSRI
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Contact Information:
270 Masonic Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118
Phone: (415) 923-5763
Fax: (415) 276-2311

Download a curriculum vitae [pdf file]


Link to article in The Scientist on new human virus discoveries

Link to Past Delwart lab post-doc Amit Kapoor discovers new human virus

Link to NPR Delwart interview on ancient cryopreserved viruses

Link to HIV Spread from Haiti to NYC in 1970, “Patient Zero” Not to Blame

Link to Cryopreserved HIV from 1970s reveals timing of early US infections

Link to a list of invited seminars 2010 to present

Link to presentation at 3rd Annual Bay Area Symposium on Viruses [YouTube video]

Link to list of novel genome published by Delwart Lab

Link to Interview on This Week In Virology: Dark Matter with Dr Eric Delwart [Podcast]

Link to UCSF dept. of Laboratory Medicine

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  • B.S., Biochemistry and Genetics, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England
  • MSc in Molecular Biology, University of Geneva, Switzerland
  • Ph.D., Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research


  • Post-doctoral Scholar, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University, California
  • Staff Investigator, The Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, New York; Assistant Professor, Rockefeller University, New York

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Research Interests:

  • RNA virus evolution
  • New virus discovery

Research Program

How many more human viruses remain to be identified? The recent discoveries of highly prevalent human viruses indicate that this is a fertile field of research. As an example of the potential impact of viral discovery, 10-50% of cases of encephalitis, gastroenteritis, and hepatitis have no identified etiology.  Identifying new viral pathogens can reduce their impact by improving our understanding of their mode of transmission, providing diagnostic tools, candidate immunogens, and targets for anti-virals.

We are using massively parallel pyrosequencing to sequence randomly amplified RNA and DNA from partially purified viral particles in clinical samples (i.e. viral metagenomics).

Our bioinformatics collaborators at Stanford are using cloud computing to speed DNA sequence similarity searches to identify new viruses. A user-friendly web site facilitates data visualization.

As of mid-2009 we have identified in human samples numerous new picornaviruses, astroviruses, anneloviruses, parvoviruses, circoviruses and a new papillomavirus.  In animal samples we identified novel picornaviruses and reoviruses (see PubMed link below). Current studies include expanding our search for new viruses, determining their sero-prevalence in various human populations, and testing their association with different clinical symptoms.

Identifying new viral families showing no sequence similarity to currently known viruses would greatly expand our understanding of viral evolution. A large fraction of sequences generated from biological samples show no detectable linear sequence similarities to any sequence in Genbank. We are interested in new bioinformatics methods to identify such highly divergent viral families.

We are also continuing our outreach to other investigators with appropriate samples for viral discovery. Persons with such biological samples and post-docs interested in training in the field of viral metagenomics should contact us directly.

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Link to PubMed

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