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Curtis R. Brandt, PhD
Curtis R. Brandt, PhD

Curtis R. Brandt, PhD

Office Information

470 N Charter St
Room 550A
Madison, WI 53706-1509
(608) 262-8054


Virology, cell & molecular biology, genetic mapping & recombinant techniques, gene therapy


Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences Vice Chair of Research

Affiliate Appointment(s):

Medical Microbiology and Immunology Waisman Center Paul Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center


B.S. 1975, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
M.S. 1977, Washington State University, Pullman, WA
M. Phil. 1983, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, NY, NY
Ph.D. 1984, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, NY, NY


Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1983-86, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA


Brandt Lab

Research in my laboratory focuses on four areas.

Gene Delivery:
1) Injection of viral gene delivery vectors into the eye triggers an inflammatory response. We are trying to identify the trigger so we can block it. Currently we are looking at several pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6. In addition we are making viral delivery vectors for several labs on campus.

2) Herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes blinding keratitis (inflammation of the cornea) and we are interested in identifying genes in the virus that contribute to severe infection. Recently, we demonstrated that multiple genes are involved and have identified a number of novel mutations in several viral proteins. New sequencing technology allows us to rapidly sequence an entire HSV genome in about a week. This allows us to directly compare virulence characteristics in animal models with the sequence of several strains to identify disease associated markers.

3) We have an active program of antiviral drug discovery and development and have worked with several companies. We have also identified novel antivirals. One was isolated from an edible mushroom that grows in Wisconsin. This novel protein appears to block several previously unknown steps in viral infection. The second group of antivirals is a series of peptides that block virus entry into cells. The peptides block HSV, Papillomavirus, HIV, and vaccinia virus. We have also shown one peptide blocks Influenza including bird flu strains. We are also using peptide based strategies to study protein function. We are currently developing the peptides as novel microbicides to block sexually transmitted viral infections. The peptides are also being used to study the poorly-understood process of viral entry.

4) One of our antiviral peptides binds to sialic acid residues on HSV-1 envelope proteins that form the fusion/entry complex. Enzymatic removal of sialic from virus particles renders them non-infectious. We now know that this is because the formation of the fusion complex is triggered by desialylation. Thus sialic acid regulates fusion complex formation. We are working to identify how this occurs.


A Mouse Model of Multi-Drug Resistant Staphylococcus aureus-induced Ocular Disease. November 30, 2016

Mapping Murine Corneal Neovascularization and Weight Loss Virulence Determinants in the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Genome and the Detection of an Epistatic Interaction between the UL and IRS/US Regions. July 8, 2016

Primate neural retina upregulates IL-6 and IL-10 in response to a herpes simplex vector suggesting the presence of a pro-/anti-inflammatory axis. May 14, 2016

Both CD8+ and CD4+ T Cells Contribute to Corneal Clouding and Viral Clearance following Vaccinia Virus Infection in C57BL/6 Mice. May 14, 2016

Quantitative Trait Locus Based Virulence Determinant Mapping of the HSV-1 Genome in Murine Ocular Infection: Genes Involved in Viral Regulatory and Innate Immune Networks Contribute to Virulence. March 11, 2016

Recombination Analysis of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Reveals a Bias toward GC Content and the Inverted Repeat Regions. May 1, 2015

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