Gillings School Directory

Ralph S. Baric, PhD

Dr. Ralph Baric

Ralph S. Baric, PhD

William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor
Department of Epidemiology
Professor
Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Member
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • 3304 Michael Hooker Research Building
  • CB #7435
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599
  • USA

Ralph Baric, PhD, is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He is a Harvey Weaver Scholar from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and an Established Investigator Awardee from the American Heart Association. In addition, he is a World Technology Award Finalist and a fellow of the American Association for Microbiology. He has spent the past three decades as a world leader in the study of coronaviruses and is responsible for UNC-Chapel Hill’s world leadership in coronavirus research. For these past three decades, Dr. Baric has warned that the emerging coronaviruses represent a significant and ongoing global health threat, particularly because they can jump, without warning, from animals into the human population, and they tend to spread rapidly.

The Baric Lab uses coronaviruses as models to study the genetics of RNA virus transcription, replication, persistence, pathogenesis, genetics and cross-species transmission. He has used alphavirus vaccine vectors to develop novel candidate vaccines. Dr. Baric has led the world in recognizing the importance of zoonotic viruses as a potentially rich source of new emerging pathogens in humans, with detailed studies of the molecular, genetic and evolutionary mechanisms that regulate the establishment and dissemination of such a virus within a newly adopted host. Specifically, he works to decipher the complex interactions between the virion and cell surface molecules that function in the entry and cross-species transmission of positive-strand RNA viruses.

In 2017, 2018 and 2019, Dr. Baric was named to Clarivate Analytics’ Highly Cited Researchers list, which recognizes researchers from around the world who published the most widely-cited papers in their field. Also in 2017, he was awarded a grant for more than $6 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to accelerate the development of a promising new drug in the fight against deadly coronaviruses, which is currently in clinical trials to reverse COVID-19 disease in humans. In this collaboration, he continued his partnership between the Gillings School and Gilead Sciences Inc. to focus on an experimental antiviral treatment that he had previously shown to prevent the development of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in mice. The drug also was shown to inhibit MERS-CoV and multiple other coronaviruses (CoV), suggesting that it may actually inhibit all CoV. He continues to work with this drug.



RALPH BARIC IN THE GILLINGS NEWS

Watch Dr. Baric present at the 2018 Going Viral Symposium: Imagining the Next Flu Pandemic – and Preventing it!

Honors and Awards

William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology

2019, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Innovation Award for Faculty Research

2011, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Established Investigator Award

1994, American Heart Association

Harvey Weaver Scholar

1986, National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Research Activities

Most of the research in the Baric Lab uses coronaviruses as models to study the genetics of RNA virus transcription, replication, persistence and cross-species transmission. Dr. Baric also has used alphavirus vaccine vectors to develop novel candidate vaccines.

Zoonotic viruses represent a potentially rich source of new emerging pathogens in humans, yet little information is available concerning the molecular, genetic and evolutionary mechanisms that regulate the establishment and dissemination of such a virus within a newly adopted host. Dr. Baric's group utilizes molecular, genetic and biochemical approaches to decipher the complex interactions between the virion and cell surface molecules that function in the entry and cross-species transmission of positive-strand RNA viruses.

Research Interest

  • Infectious Disease

Key Publications

An orally bioavailable broad-spectrum antiviral inhibits SARS-CoV-2 in human airway epithelial cell cultures and multiple coronaviruses in mice. Sheahan TP, Sims AC, Zhou S, Graham RL, Pruijssers AJ, Agostini ML, Leist SR, Schäfer A, Dinnon KH 3rd, Stevens LJ, Chappell JD, Lu X, Hughes TM, George AS, Hill CS, Montgomery SA, Brown AJ, Bluemling GR, Natchus MG, Saindane M, Kolykhalov AA, Painter G, Harcourt J, Tamin A, Thornburg NJ, Swanstrom R, Denison MR, Baric RS. (2020). Sci Transl Med., pii: eabb5883..
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Comparative therapeutic efficacy of remdesivir and combination lopinavir, ritonavir, and interferon beta against MERS-CoV. Sheahan TP, Sims AC, Leist SR, Schäfer A, Won J, Brown AJ, Montgomery SA, Hogg A, Babusis D, Clarke MO, Spahn JE, Bauer L, Sellers S, Porter D, Feng JY, Cihlar T, Jordan R, Denison MR, Baric RS. (2020). Nat Commun., 11(1):222..
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Sera Antibody Repertoire Analyses Reveal Mechanisms of Broad and Pandemic Strain Neutralizing Responses after Human Norovirus Vaccination. Lindesmith LC, McDaniel JR, Changela A, Verardi R, Kerr SA, Costantini V, Brewer-Jensen PD, Mallory ML, Voss WN, Boutz DR, Blazeck JJ, Ippolito GC, Vinje J, Kwong PD, Georgiou G, Baric RS. (2019). Immunity, 50(6):1530-1541:e8.
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Evaluation of a recombination-resistant coronavirus as a broadly applicable, rapidly implementable vaccine platform. Graham RL, Deming DJ, Deming ME, Yount BL, Baric RS. (2018). Commun Biol., 1:179..
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Broad-spectrum antiviral GS-5734 inhibits both epidemic and zoonotic coronaviruses. Sheahan TP, Sims AC, Graham RL, Menachery VD, Gralinski LE, Case JB, Leist SR, Pyrc K, Feng JY, Trantcheva I, Bannister R, Park Y, Babusis D, Clarke MO, Mackman RL, Spahn JE, Palmiotti CA, Siegel D, Ray AS, Cihlar T, Jordan R, Denison MR, Baric RS. (2017). Sci Transl Med., 9(396). pii: eaal3653..
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MERS-CoV and H5N1 influenza virus antagonize antigen presentation by altering the epigenetic landscape. Menachery VD, Schäfer A, Burnum-Johnson KE, Mitchell HD, Eisfeld AJ, Walters KB, Nicora CD, Purvine SO, Casey CP, Monroe ME, Weitz KK, Stratton KG, Webb-Robertson BM, Gralinski LE, Metz TO, Smith RD, Waters KM, Sims AC, Kawaoka Y, Baric RS (2018). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(5), E1012-E1021.

Neutralization mechanism of a highly potent antibody against Zika virus. S Zhang, V Kostyuchenko, T Ng, X Lim, J Ooi, S Lambert, T Tan, D Widman, J Shi, R Baric, S Lok (2016). Nature communications, 7.

SARS-like WIV1-CoV poised for human emergence. V Menachery, B Yount, A Sims, K Debbink, S Agnihothram, L Gralinski, R Graham, T Scobey, J Plante, S Royal, J Swanstrom, T Sheahan, R Pickles, D Corti, S Randell, A Lanzavecchia, W Marasco, R Baric (2016). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence. V Menachery, B Yount, K Debbink, S Agnihothram, L Gralinski, J Plante, R Graham, T Scobey, X Ge, E Donaldson, S Randell, A Lanzavecchia, W Marasco, Z Shi, R Baric (2015). Nature medicine, 21(12), 1508-13.

Broad Blockade Antibody Responses in Human Volunteers after Immunization with a Multivalent Norovirus VLP Candidate Vaccine: Immunological Analyses from a Phase I Clinical Trial. Lisa Lindesmith, Martin Ferris, Clancy Mullan, Jennifer Ferreira, Kari Debbink, Jesica Swanstrom, Charles Richardson, Robert Goodwin, Frank Baehner, Paul Mendelman, Robert Bargatze, Ralph Baric (2015). PLoS Medicine, 12(3).

Education

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Microbiology, University of Southern California, 1986

PhD, Microbiology, North Carolina State University, 1982

BS, Zoology, North Carolina State University, 1977

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