Gaya K. Amarasinghe, PhD

Gaya K. Amarasinghe, PhD

Alumni Endowed Professor, Pathology and Immunology


  • Laboratory & Genomic Medicine

Additional Titles

  • Professor, Molecular Microbiology
  • Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics


  • BS, Biochemistry: City College of New York/CUNY, New York, NY (1997)
  • PhD, Biochemistry: University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD (2001)

Research Lab


  • Mildred Curtman Award for Excellence in Research, Department of Chemistry, The City College of New York, New York, NY, 1996
  • Cancer Research Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2002
  • Early Achievement in Research Award, Iowa State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 2010

Research Interests

The overarching goal of my research program is to define the molecular basis for host-pathogen interactions with biological consequences to pathogenesis. Interactions that promote host immune suppression and/or enhance pathogen replication in a cell and tissue specific manner form the basis of our studies. We use a multidisciplinary approach that includes biochemical analyses and biophysical studies to develop an atomic resolution framework of host microbial interactions. Insights from these studies are routinely tested in vitro and in vivo to assess the functional significance to develop mechanistic models. Our recent findings in Ebola virus, Marburg virus, Rift Valley Fever virus, and SARS-CoV-2 highlight the impact of our approach.  Importantly, these studies continue to provide us with the opportunities to train and mentor a diverse group of trainees, including undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.

DBBS Affiliation

  • Immunology Biochemistry
  • Biophysics and Structural Biology
  • Molecular Microbiology

Selected Publications

Leung DW, Ginder ND, Fulton DB, Nix J, Basler CF, Honzatko RB, and Amarasinghe GK. Structure of the Ebola VP35 interferon inhibitory domain. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2009;106(2):411-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0807854106. PubMed PMID: 19122151; PMCID: PMC2626716.
Xu W, Edwards MR, Borek DM, Feagins AR, Mittal A, Alinger JB, Berry KN, Yen B, Hamilton J, Brett TJ, Pappu RV, Leung DW, Basler CF, and Amarasinghe GK. Ebola virus VP24 targets a unique NLS binding site on karyopherin alpha 5 to selectively compete with nuclear import of phosphorylated STAT1. Cell Host Microbe. 2014;16(2):187-200. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2014.07.008. PubMed PMID: 25121748; PMCID: PMC4188415.
Hyde JL, Gardner CL, Kimura T, White JP, Liu G, Trobaugh DW, Huang C, Tonelli M, Paessler S, Takeda K, Klimstra WB, Amarasinghe GK, and Diamond MS. A viral RNA structural element alters host recognition of nonself RNA. Science. 2014;343(6172):783-7. PubMed PMID: 24482115; PMCID: PMC4209899.
Chatterjee S, Luthra P, Esaulova E, Agapov E, Yen BC, Borek DM, Edwards MR, Mittal A, Jordan DS, Ramanan P, Moore ML, Pappu RV, Holtzman MJ, Artyomov MN, Basler CF, Amarasinghe GK, and Leung DW. Structural basis for human respiratory syncytial virus NS1-mediated modulation of host responses. Nat Microbiol. 2017;2:17101. PubMed PMID: 28665409; PMCID: PMC5739881.
Su Z, Wu C, Shi L, Luthra P, Pintilie GD, Johnson B, Porter JR, Ge P, Chen M, Liu G, Frederick TE, Binning JM, Bowman GR, Zhou ZH, Basler CF, Gross ML, Leung DW, Chiu W, and Amarasinghe GK. Electron Cryo-microscopy Structure of Ebola Virus Nucleoprotein Reveals a Mechanism for Nucleocapsid-like Assembly. Cell. 2018;172(5):966-78 e12. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.02.009. PubMed PMID: 29474922.
Ganaie SS, Schwarz MM, McMillen CM, Price D, Feng A,  Albe JR, Wang W, Miersch S, Orvedahl A, Cole AR, Sentmanat MF, Mishra N, Boyles DA, Koenig ZT, Kujawa MR, Demers MA, Hoehl RM, Moyle A, Wagner N, Stubbs SH, Cardarelli L, Teyra J, McElroy A, Gross ML,  Whelan SPJ, Doench J, Cui X, Brett TJ, Sidhu SS, Virgin HW, Egawa T, Leung DW, Amarasinghe GK, and Hartman AL. Lrp1 is a host entry factor for Rift Valley Fever Virus. Cell 2021 Sep 30;184(20):5163-5178.e24. PMID: 34559985; PMCID: PMC8786218; doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.09.001.
Qavi AJ, Meserve K, Aman MJ, Vu H, Zeitlin L, Dye JM, Froude JW, Leung DW, Yang L, Holtsberg FW, Bailey RC, Amarasinghe GK. Rapid detection of an Ebola biomarker with optical microring resonators. Cell Rep Methods. 2022 Jun 8;2(6):100234. doi: 10.1016/j.crmeth.2022.100234. PMID: 35784644; PMCID: PMC9243524.
Qavi AJ, Wu C, Lloyd M, Zaman MM, Luan J, Ballman C, Leung DW, Crick SL, Farnsworth CW, Amarasinghe GK. Plasmonic Fluor-Enhanced Antigen Arrays for High-Throughput, Serological Studies of SARS-CoV-2. ACS Infect Dis. 2022 Aug 12;8(8):1468-1479. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.2c00086. Epub 2022 Jul 22. PMID: 35867632; PMCID: PMC9344907.

Lydia Wheat