Alex Evilevitch

Associate Professor

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Alex Evilevitch
2814 Vet Med Basic Sciences Bldg
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Biography

Professor Evilevitch received his PhD in Physical Chemistry at Lund University, Sweden in 2001. For two years, he was a STINT postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Los Angeles, where he began his research in virus biophysics. He became an Assistant Professor and later an Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry at Lund University, Sweden. From 2009-2016 he held an Associate Professor appointment in the Department of Physics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, before he joined University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Research Interests

  • Evilevitch laboratory in Virus Biophysics focuses on key physical mechanisms for infectivity and replication of double-stranded DNA viruses. Experimental model systems used in the group are dsDNA bacteriophages and human herpes viruses (e.g. HSV-1). We are specifically interested in physical mechanisms of DNA packaging and ejection from viral capsids, viral packaging motors, DNA structural transitions inside the capsids associated with infection, viral DNA ejection dynamics, assembly and mechanical stability of viral capsids, effects of molecular crowding on viral DNA ejection and viral replication in vivo, viral DNA condensation. The current research direction is centered around group’s discovery of  high internal DNA pressure inside human Herpesvirus capsids. This DNA  pressure reaches tens of atmospheres! The internal genome pressure is  generated by strong repulsive interactions between tightly packaged,  negatively charged DNA strands as well as DNA bending energy. This  mechanical DNA pressure is responsible for initiation of viral  infection. Also central to our laboratory is the direct link between virus  biophysics and molecular genetics. The ability to selectively modify  viral genes of interest allows identification of specific protein  domains required for DNA encapsidation and retention during capsid  assembly and viral capsid maturation. We have the unique capability to  perform both single molecule and bulk measurements on viruses under  controlled solution conditions. The main techniques are atomic force  microscopy, ultra-sensitive microcalorimetry, fluorescence microscopy,  light scattering, solution X-ray (SAXS) and neutron scattering (SANS).

Research Statement

Evilevitch laboratory conducts research in virus biophysics. Specifically, we investigate how physical forces control viral infectious cycles. Since physical forces are often more universal than specific biochemical molecular interactions, this knowledge helps us to understand not just how one type of virus works, but how many classes of viruses replicate, providing insight into virus evolution and how to interfere with viral infections in a novel "biophysical" way. Our main tools are solution X-ray and neutron scattering, atomic force microscopy, ultra-sensitive microcalorimetry and fluorescence microscopy.

More on the Lab website: http://vetmed.illinois.edu/evilevitch-lab/

Honors

  • 2008 Sven och Ebba-Christina Hagberg's Prize in Biochemistry and Medicine from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Karolinska University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 2005 Akzo Nobel Nordic Science Prize
  • 2004 Swedish Research Council Career Award
  • 2004 The UCLA Chancellor's Award for Postdoctoral Research with Exceptional Accomplishments in research
  • 2003 The 2003 Hebert Newby McCoy Award, UCLA
  • 2002 Award for Postdoctoral Research from STINT (The Swedish Foundation of International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education)

Selected Articles in Journals