The purpose of this blog is to teach you about viruses and viral disease. This topic is not one that everyone understands, yet nearly everyone would like to. I was most disturbed when the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy G. Thompson, referred to the anthrax bacillus as a virus. That incident crystallized in my mind the need to better educate the public about viruses.

I am your host at virology blog – Vincent Racaniello Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology & Immunology in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. Why am I qualified to teach you virology? I have done laboratory research on viruses since 1975, when I entered the Ph.D. program in Biomedical Sciences at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine of the City University of New York. My thesis research, in the laboratory of Dr. Peter Palese, was focussed on influenza viruses. That’s me in the black and white photo below, taken in 1977. Yes, I’ve changed.

Vincent Racaniello 1977

In 1979 I joined the laboratory of Dr. David Baltimore at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where I did postdoctoral work on poliovirus. The moratorium on cloning full-length viral genomes had just been lifted, so I proceeded to make a DNA copy of poliovirus RNA, using the enzyme reverse transcriptase. I cloned this DNA into a bacterial plasmid and determined the nucleotide sequence of the poliovirus genome. In an exciting advance, I found that a DNA copy of poliovirus RNA is infectious when introduced into cells. This was the first demonstration of infectivity of a DNA copy of an animal RNA virus, and it permitted previously unthought of genetic manipulations of the viral genome. Today infectious DNA clones are used to study most viruses.

In 1982 I joined the faculty in the Department of Microbiology at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City. There I established a laboratory to study viruses, and to train other scientists to become virologists. Over the years we have studied a variety of viruses including poliovirus, echovirus, enterovirus 70, rhinovirus, and hepatitis C virus. As principal investigator of my laboratory, I oversee the research that is carried out by Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows. I also teach virology to undergraduate students, as well as graduate, medical, dental, and nursing students.

Since I think about viruses every day, and I have always been interested in teaching others about viruses, this blog seemed to be an ideal forum to convey some of my knowledge on this topic.

After starting this blog, I became interested in using ‘new media’ (internet-based media) to disseminate information about viruses. I’ve summarized my use of this format in an article entitled “Social media and microbiology education“, which you can find at the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens. In addition to writing about viruses on virology blog, I also host and produce five podcasts: This Week in Virology, This Week in Parasitism, This Week in Microbiology, This Week in Evolution, and Urban Agriculture. You can find them all on iTunes or at MicrobeTV. I teach a virology course each spring at Columbia University, and I post videocasts of each lecture at the course website, at YouTube, at iTunes University, and at Coursera.

If you would like to learn about our work on viruses in more detail, please visit my website at Columbia University, or my Wikipedia page. You might also like to follow me on Twitter or Google+, where I often provide links to interesting stories about viruses; on YouTube, where I posts videos about viruses; or on Instagram, or the This Week in Virology page on Facebook. I have also written about my work on this site; links to some of these articles are provided below.

Earth’s virology course

Thirty years in my laboratory at Columbia University

Edwin D. Kilbourne, MD, 1920-2011 (his influence on my career)

Thirty years of infectious enthusiasm

Transgenic mice susceptible to poliovirus

Viruses and journalism: Poliovirus, HIV, and sperm

Poliovirus on BBC radio

Viruses and journalism: Off-the-shelf chemicals

Poliovirus is IRESistable


All of the opinions that I write on this blog are mine, and in no way represent the views of my employer, Columbia University. This information is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. If you think you are sick, see your doctor. Links to other sites do not constitute endorsements of those sites.

Vincent Racaniello

209 thoughts on “About”

  1. Interesting comments and information that demonstrate our ignorance. For more than 40 years, I have only warned members of my profession about treatment-resistant bacteria and fungus and have not given much importance to virus infections. I assumed scientists and doctors know viruses mutilate, jump from animals or plants and infect humans. They also transfer information from one organism to another and so take a few seconds to create a stronger and more intelligent bug that multiply and spread faster.

    In 2019, the healthcare providers, our leaders inflicted fear of hospitalisation and death to protect their institutions and investment. Lockdowns and quarantines to help reduce demand, and it took a few months to develop tests. This callous attitude only helped the virus spread, and secondary bacterial infections killed more people. We must be honest, share knowledge and help people conquer the fear of infections, stop using chemicals and claim vaccination will help us revert to life as it was in the past; if not, the situation will only worsen.

    Let me explain how I imagine viruses are and why we must step out of the box to help bring an end to the crisis that is destroying the life of humans on earth.

    Viruses are like spores, pollens or dust that enter and exit our bodies every time we breathe. They are like the computer software update. They are essential because they are the building blocks of life. Whether we like it or not, they must infect every human on earth. Once they enter, they change the code in our DNA and help open the gates of cells to allow bacteria, fungus and chemicals to enter and exit. These bacteria are like the computer (nucleus) operators, making cells perform their function.

    The way we think, act, behave, and function depends on the bacteria colonised in and on our bodies soon after birth. I have tested this hypothesis numerous times and found they are true.

    By simply changing the group of children playing with my daughter, I could change the way she thinks and acts, so it’s not the genes (DNA) the is important but the operator of the computer (nucleus) in each cell that makes who you are, what you believe and what you do.

    When mitochondria (virus) enter a procaryote, eucaryote is formed, which is the ancestor of every living soul on earth. This symbiotic relationship between organisms is what we must adapt to survive. The era of kill, conquer and rule must come to an end if we humans want to survive; if not, what Issac Newton said will turn out to be true.

    I may be wrong, but hope this comment will stirup a debate and help us learn more and understand what life is all about

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  3. I’m familiar with electroporating pathogens with a H.R.C. zapper. (9 volts).

    I’m curious if you have tested this method yourself as a means of eliminating pathogens and or recognize neutralizing bacteria with colloidal silver @ 10ppm?

    Very truly yours PJ

  4. When will virology conduct the required negative control experiments on the existence of viruses? To date no such experiments have been performed, as admitted in 2014 by Professor Andreas Podbielski from University of Rostock, “I have to expressly clarify that one cannot provide evidence in the classical sense in biology as one can in mathematics or physics. In biology one can only gather clues, which at some point in time in their entirety attain probative value.“

    In fact, such control experiments have been carried out where the cell cultures exhibit the same pathology as claimed by virology when the cell cultures are ‘infected’ with a virus, proving the non-existence of viruses, but proving the existence of exosomes.

    Your thoughts on this shocking scientific fraud would be appreciated.

  5. How does Virology.ws engage with its audience, and what resources are available for individuals interested in learning more about virology on the website?

  6. Autophagy is a process involving the structure of the cell itself, through the lysosomal machinery, responsible for the transport of damaged organelles, misfolded proteins, and other macromolecules to lysosomes for degradation and reuse of evolutionally conserved processes. Not a chemistry company: https://www.all-chemistry.com/index

  7. The origins of viruses in the evolutionary history of life are unclear: some may have evolved from plasmids—pieces of DNA that can move between cells—while others may have evolved from bacteria. In evolution, viruses are an important means of horizontal gene transfer, which increases genetic diversity in a way analogous to sexual reproduction.[9] Viruses are considered by some biologists to be a life form, because they carry genetic material, reproduce, and evolve through natural selection, although they lack the key characteristics, such as cell structure, that are generally considered necessary criteria for defining life. Because they possess some but not all such qualities, viruses have been described as “organisms at the edge of life” and as replicators.
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