Born and raised in sunny Singapore, Liang Wei won an Agency for Science and Technology (A*STAR) National Science Scholarship to study at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, and obtained his bachelors degree in Natural Sciences (Biological) with concentrations in Immunology and Virology. He performed honours-level research on the role of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV)-encoded micro-RNAs in modulating T cell function with Drs Mark Wills and Inmaculada Montanuy Sellart (Addenbrookes Hospital) After graduating from Cambridge, he performed a year of postgraduate research on hepatitis B virus (HBV) core promoter regulation with Assoc Prof Ren Ee Chee and Dr Ko Huiling (Singapore Immunology Network). He then moved to Boston in 2014 to start his PhD in Virology at Harvard Medical School. Despite never having had much interest in tumour biology (and expressly saying that to a professor working on polyomavirus oncogenesis), several twists of fate have brought him to work on B cell transformation by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) with Asst Prof Benjamin Gewurz (Brigham and Women’s Hospital). Apart from spending hours trying to understand how EBV manipulates B cell metabolism and G protein signaling to grow and survive indefinitely, Liang Wei also finds time to play squash, savour seafood and take in the sights around New England.
Yijie Ma, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Yijie is a postdoctoral research fellow with dual appointments to the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at the Harvard Medical School (HMS). Yijie earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology in 2011 at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC). His thesis work concentrated on molecular interplay between viruses and human innate immune system. He discovered that an essential human kinase in antiviral immunity is targeted by one virulence factor of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1), which is critical for HSV1 pathogenesis. After that, he undertook his first postdoctoral training at UIC where he developed an HSV1 attenuated vaccine and studied the molecular mechanisms behind the protective immunity induced by this vaccine. In 2014, he joined Dr. Elliott Kieff’s viral oncology group at BWH/HMS and worked closely with Dr. Gewurz. His work focuses on understanding Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) mediated B cell lymphomagenesis utilizing genome-wide and proteome-wide approaches. More specifically, he is investigating the role of NF-kB pathways in human B cell activation and transformation. Besides research, Yijie is a huge snowboarder and outdoor activity lover. He also enjoys going to concerts, festivals and other fun events with the company of some friends and beers.
Benjamin Gewurz, Ph.D., M.D.
Ben graduated from Stanford University with as B.S. in Biological Sciences. As an undergraduate, he used bacterial genetic screens and the first whole genome sequence of a living organism to study bacterial pathogenesis with Drs. Stanley Falkow and Richard Moxon. He received a Stanford Firestone Medal for his thesis research.
Ben then received MD-PhD training at Harvard Medical School and MIT. His thesis studies with Hidde Ploegh and Don Wiley focused on human cytomegalovirus evasion of the MHC class I antigen presentation pathway. He solved the crystal structure of the US2/HLA-A2/Tax peptide complex at 2.2A resolution in collaboration with Rachelle Gaudet, the first atomic structure of a virus-encoded immune-evasin together with its host cell target. His thesis research was recognized by the Harvard Modell prize.
Ben then completed training in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and in infectious diseases at the Brigham & Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals. His post-doctoral studies with Elliott Kieff focused on Epstein-Barr virus oncoprotein LMP1-mediated canonical NF-kB pathway activation. He performed the first siRNA screen of the canonical LMP1/NF-kB pathway and identified LMP1 genome-wide canonical NF-kB targets.
Ben began his independent laboratory at the Brigham & Women’s in 2012. His research has been supported by the Brigham & Women’s, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the NIH, a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in Medical Sciences, the Grunebaum Foundation, and the Harvard Catalyst.
Ben enjoys teaching, and received a Derek Bok teaching award for undergraduate education in immunology. He is the Associate Chair of the Harvard Virology graduate program (http://www.hms.harvard.edu/dms/virology/), and teaches in several virology program courses. He is an Associate Member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, a member of the Dana-Farber/ Harvard Cancer Center, and is on the advisory boards for the Harvard/MIT MD-PhD and Health Sciences and Technology programs. He is also on the Virology Editorial board.
Email: bgewurz (at) partners.org