Daniel Blanco-Melo

Daniel Blanco-Melo in his Steam Plant lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, November 8, 2021, in Seattle, Washington.

Position: Assistant Professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, United States

Research focus: Antiviral immune defenses

What do you love about viruses?
How these minimalist entities can take over a complex system, either an individual organism or the complete society in which we live.

What is your favourite way to spend a day off?
Enjoy an art exhibition, concert or have a nice meal outdoors with friends and family.

If you could create a new invention, what would it be?
A potent universal antiviral.

What is the most interesting question or challenge in science that is still unanswered?
Big question. A huge challenge is still how to deal with the vast amount of data that is being produced and how to transform this data into knowledge and therapeutics, policies, behavioral changes. Additionally, in the case of my research area, there is still much to do regarding how to translate the vast knowledge gained on antiviral genes and restriction factors into actual antiviral therapies.

What is the coolest thing about your research?
That I could learn the history of how things came to be (evolution of viruses and antiviral strategies)

What was your most surprising scientific finding?
I believe my most surprising discovery was during my grad school, where I was able to reconstruct a 30 million-year-old retrovirus and found that an ancient primate was able to combat this particular virus by borrowing parts of its machinery.

Which scientific topic (outside of your field of research) do you think should have more scientific attention?
I am fascinated by physics and the possibility of time travel.

If you were completely free to choose a scientific topic to work on, which would it be?
Paleovirology and the evolution of antiviral strategies.

If you had the option to give advice to a younger version of yourself, what would that be?
Do not disregard negative data.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our members?
I am opening my research lab, and I am on the lookout for talented and motivated scientists to join us tackle questions regarding current and ancient viral infections and understanding the mechanisms and evolution of our immune system. I am currently recruiting a bioinformatic analyst (recent graduate pre-Ph.D.) and a post-doctoral fellow. If interested, please visit our website.