Rockefeller University — Viral Histone Mimics (Alexander Tarakhovsky) (2020)

Dr. Alexander Tarakhovsky, a professor and head of the Laboratory for the Immune Cell Epigenetics and Signaling at The Rockefeller University. (Photo courtesy of Rockefeller University)

Grant investigator: Heather Youngs

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Rockefeller University staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $200,000 to Rockefeller University to support research on viral histone mimics led by Professor Alexander Tarakhovsky.

This follows our April 2017 support and represents an “exit grant” that will provide Professor Tarakhovsky with approximately six months of operating support. It falls within our work on scientific research, and specifically within our interest in advancing science supporting biosecurity and pandemic preparedness. Professor Tarakhovsky’s research was identified through our 2016 NIH Transformative Research Award RFP.

Rockefeller University — Viral Histone Mimics (Alexander Tarakhovsky)

A member of the Tarakhovsky laboratory at Rockefeller University. (Photo courtesy of Rockefeller University)
Grant investigator: Heather Youngs
This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Rockefeller University staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.

The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $1,600,000 to Rockefeller University to support research on viral histone mimics led by Professor Alexander Tarakhovsky. Professor Tarakhovsky has discovered a novel mechanism through which viruses may influence host gene expression: he found that in influenza H3N2, the non-structural 1 (NS1) protein acts to downregulate antiviral genes (i.e. weaken host defense systems) by mimicking human histone 3, which interferes with normal histone regulation in the host cell. Professor Tarakhovsky and his collaborators plan to use this grant to further explore this mechanism in the life cycle of the yellow fever virus and to determine whether the mechanism occurs in other host-virus interactions.

We are excited about this grant because we believe that understanding the structure and function of the histone mimics may present a new target for development of antiviral compounds, which we believe is an important element of maximizing pandemic preparedness.

This grant falls within our work on scientific research, and was identified through our 2016 NIH Transformative Research Award RFP.

Update: In July 2018, we added $100,000 to the original award amount for additional work on the project. The “grant amount” above has been updated to reflect this.