Larissa B. Thackray, PhD

Larissa B. Thackray, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine

Dr. Thackray joined the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in 2009.  She received her PhD studying coronaviruses under the direction of Dr. Kathryn Holmes at the University of Colorado and completed her postdoctoral research on noroviruses in the laboratory of Dr. Herbert Virgin at Washington University.

Her research interests focus on developing and utilizing animal models to elucidate how interactions between the microbiome and the host determine the immune response and pathogenic outcome of systemic virus infection, as well as to develop antiviral therapeutics and vaccines against emerging viruses.

Complex interactions between the mammalian gut microbiota, host immunity, and virus infection influences host resistance to some viruses, yet also promotes infection with others. Using mouse models, her lab has demonstrated that antibiotics that perturb the gut microbiota impair host immunity and alter the outcome of systemic virus infection. Dr. Thackray and colleagues have also shown that helminth co-infection can increase the severity of flavivirus infection.  Consequently, an expanded understanding of interactions between the mammalian microbiota, host immunity, and the outcome of virus infection is essential for developing novel strategies to ameliorate human disease.

Most recently Dr. Thackray has devoted time to the study of mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV2-strains. The emergence and re-emergence of viruses with pandemic potential creates an urgent need for the accelerated discovery of antiviral therapeutics and vaccines. Dr. Thackray and colleagues have developed mouse models for high-throughput functional analysis as part of an integrated pipeline that enables the rapid identification and characterization of antiviral human monoclonal antibodies. They used this pipeline to characterize monoclonal antibodies that protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection. They also are using these mouse models to characterize the immunogenicity and efficacy of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.

To highlight the diversity of people doing coronavirus and other virus research, Dr. Thackray hosts a podcast called “Let’s Meet the Virologists.”

Related Links
  • AB in Biology, Cornell University (1991)
  • PhD in Microbiology and Immunology, Advisor: Dr. Kathryn V. Homes, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (2003)
  • Post-doctoral Fellow with Dr. Herbert W. Virgin, Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine (2009)
  • Founder and Organizer, Washington University Microbiome Working Group (2019-)
  • Podcast Host: “Let’s Meet the Virologist” (2020 – present)
Selected Publications
  1. Ying B, Whitener B, VanBlargan LA, Hassan AO, Shrihari S, Liang CY, Karl CE, Mackin S, Chen RE, Kafai NM, Wilks SH, Smith DJ, Carreño JM, Singh G, Krammer F, Carfi A, Elbashir S, Edwards DK, Thackray LB, Diamond MS. Protective activity of mRNA vaccines against ancestral and variant SARS-CoV-2 strains. bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2021 Aug 26:2021.08.25.457693. doi: 10.1101/2021.08.25.457693. PMID: 34462745; PMCID: PMC8404887.
  2. Suryadevara N, Shrihari S, Gilchuk P, VanBlargan LA, Binshtein E, Zost SJ, Nargi RS, Sutton RE, Winkler ES, Chen EC, Fouch ME, Davidson E, Doranz BJ, Chen RE, Shi PY, Carnahan RH, Thackray LB, Diamond MS, Crowe JE Jr. Neutralizing and protective human monoclonal antibodies recognizing the N-terminal domain of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Cell. 2021 Apr 29;184(9):2316-2331.e15. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.03.029. Epub 2021 Mar 16. PMID: 33773105; PMCID: PMC7962591.
  3. Desai P, Janova H, White JP, Reynoso GV, Hickman HD, Baldridge MT, Urban JF Jr, Stappenbeck TS, Thackray LB, Diamond MS. Enteric helminth coinfection enhances host susceptibility to neurotropic flaviviruses via a tuft cell-IL-4 receptor signaling axis. Cell. 2021 Mar 4;184(5):1214-1231.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.01.051. Epub 2021 Feb 25. PMID: 33636133; PMCID: PMC7962748.
  4. Zost SJ, Gilchuk P, Case JB, Binshtein E, Chen RE, Nkolola JP, Schäfer A, Reidy JX, Trivette A, Nargi RS, Sutton RE, Suryadevara N, Martinez DR, Williamson LE, Chen EC, Jones T, Day S, Myers L, Hassan AO, Kafai NM, Winkler ES, Fox JM, Shrihari S, Mueller BK, Meiler J, Chandrashekar A, Mercado NB, Steinhardt JJ, Ren K, Loo YM, Kallewaard NL, McCune BT, Keeler SP, Holtzman MJ, Barouch DH, Gralinski LE, Baric RS, Thackray LB, Diamond MS, Carnahan RH, Crowe JE Jr. Potently neutralizing and protective human antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Nature. 2020 Aug;584(7821):443-449. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2548-6. Epub 2020 Jul 15. PMID: 32668443; PMCID: PMC7584396.
  5. Winkler ES, Shrihari S, Hykes BL Jr, Handley SA, Andhey PS, Huang YS, Swain A, Droit L, Chebrolu KK, Mack M, Vanlandingham DL, Thackray LB, Cella M, Colonna M, Artyomov MN, Stappenbeck TS, Diamond MS. The Intestinal Microbiome Restricts Alphavirus Infection and Dissemination through a Bile Acid-Type I IFN Signaling Axis. Cell. 2020 Aug 20;182(4):901-918.e18. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.029. Epub 2020 Jul 14. PMID: 32668198; PMCID: PMC7483520.

Bibliography – Larissa Thackray