Dr. Heidner’s research focuses on the replication of alphaviruses in vertebrate and mosquito cells, as well as the use of alphavirus-based vectors for cell targeting and vaccine applications and development. Alphaviruses are mosquito-borne, zoonotic pathogens that cause outbreaks in humans and animals. Alphaviruses remain a global issue, and each continent has humans at risk from one or more of these arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses). Humans infected with the alphavirus experience severe encephalitis to polyarthritis. Most infections also cause fever, headaches and muscle pains to severe headache, seizures, and possibly even death.
Dr. Heidner’s research also focuses on the design and evaluation of recombinant alphaviruses for the purpose of targeting virus particles to specific cell types such as tumor cells, and to enhance innate and adaptive immune responses to virus-expressed vaccine antigens. He is working on research that could be used to deliver vaccine antigens derived from a broad range of pathogens.