Melanie Ott’s lab focuses mainly on two viruses, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) and the hepatitis C virus. HIV infects immune cells known as CD4+ T cells, wreaking havoc on the body’s immune system. However, the virus can also remain dormant in CD4+ T cells and re-emerge later to initiate a new round of infection. The Hepatitis C virus targets liver cells, where it uses fat droplets to propagate itself while compromising the cells’ fat and energy metabolism. Ott’s team strives to understand the molecular interactions between these viruses and their target cells to yield targets for new therapeutic drugs. The lab also studies the Zika virus and its interaction with host RNA control pathways.