Jamil Mahmud is a PhD student researching the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). His ambition is to revolutionize the current anti-HCMV treatment and develop one that prevents HCMV infection and diseases associated with the virus itself.
My research focuses on how HCMV infects monocytes and manipulates the normal function of this cell type to spread in our body. Specifically, I have identified the viral and cellular proteins essential for HCMV entry into monocytes to prevent infection during organ transplantation.
I am doing my PhD in the lab of Dr. Gary Chan at SUNY Upstate Medical University where I am working with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), a ubiquitous pathogen of human. HCMV infection in infants and immunocompromised adults, such as AIDS patients and transplant recipients cause severe diseases and deaths. Associated diseases are characterized by end-organ (such as heart, lung, liver, kidney and brain) dysfunction. This is a direct consequence of the viral spread in our body through infecting the peripheral blood monocytes (a type of white blood cell). Thus, deciphering how the virus infects monocytes is critical to prevent HCMV diseases. The current anti-viral treatments are ineffective against HCMV and can cause a relapse, organ rejection and often death of the transplant recipients. Therefore, my research will have an invaluable effect in developing a novel anti-HCMV treatment to prevent HCMV infection and diseases associated with the virus.
I’ve always had the urge to help people in a meaningful way – the desire to save lives and help people. Investigating HCMV, a virus that can cause so much damage and yet in some cases remains underrated, has motivated me. Sharing the knowledge I acquire is my way of contributing to the welfare of humanity. I believe there is no alternative to hard work. The key is to ‘work smart’ and finish your work in half the time so that you can do twice as much.
There is a better way to combat HCMV infection. Right now, there isn’t a vaccine or anti-viral treatment to completely get rid of a HCMV infection. This adversely affects immunocompromised adults such as transplant recipients, patients undergoing chemotherapy and HIV patients, as well as immunonaïve infants. We are working on novel anti-HCMV antivirals to target and destroy HCMV-infected cells to combat this virus.
Dealing with failure has always been difficult for me. However, I quickly realized that science is mostly based on failures and that helped me move forward. In fact, some of the greatest achievements in human history came from failures. It’s how you get back up that defines who you are, not your failures.
Q: What kind of mindset do you need to achieve your Next Great Impossible?
A: Focused, Hardworking, Collaborative