Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, USA
Dr. Jha received a master of philosophy (M. Phil) in 1998 and doctor of philosophy (Ph. D.) in 2005 in the area of Biochemistry and Structural Biology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
Dr. Jha’s current research focuses on host defenses against viruses and cancer. In particular, his work in Prof. Robert Silverman’s laboratory probes molecular mechanisms of the OAS-RNase L system induced by viral infection and its antagonism by various cellular and viral factors under pathogenic conditions. Recently, in a collaboration with Prof. Susan R. Weiss (University of Pennsylvania), Dr. Jha co-discovered that the mouse coronavirus (MHV) accessory protein ns2 is an enzyme that interferes with the host anti-viral response. These studies showed that inhibition of the anti-viral response involving the host proteins OAS and RNase L by this viral protein, particularly in macrophages, is required for virus-induced hepatitis in mice and explains how this virus overcomes host defense mechanisms. He is currently extending these observations beyond MHV to other host and viral proteins that are structurally similar to the mouse coronavirus protein. In addition, Dr. Jha is developing a targeted therapeutic intervention to enhance the efficacy of oncolytic viruses (viruses that can kill tumor cells) in the Silverman lab. He found that the anti-angiogenic drug, sunitinib, inhibits host antiviral proteins, and he is using this drug to increase the anti-tumor activity of an oncolytic virus in mice. Thus his work may lead to new cancer therapies.