Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Biology & Biomedical Sciences (Molecular Cell Biology)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Emerging viral pathogens represent a constant and prominent threat to human health worldwide. There is a dire need to develop new pathogen inactivation techniques that can be used to safeguard the blood supply and to generate inactivated vaccines against these emerging viruses. Unfortunately, current techniques are inadequate because they introduce toxic/carcinogenic chemicals or alter the structure of the products, leading to loss of safety and efficacy. We have developed a novel, chemical-free ultrashort pulsed laser treatment system capable of inactivating a broad spectrum of both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses. We found that ultrashort pulsed laser treatment targets the vibrational modes of viral capsids through impulsive stimulated Raman scattering, leading to virus inactivation. Our studies reveal a capsid defect in ultrashort pulsed laser-treated viruses as a result of laser-driven aggregation of viral capsid proteins. We have applied the ultrashort pulsed laser method to pathogen reduction in human plasma, and have demonstrated that laser treatment can inactivate medically important viruses while preserving human plasma. Furthermore, we have applied the ultrashort pulsed laser method to vaccine generation, and have shown that laser-inactivated virus vaccines have the potential to be safer and more effective than vaccines inactivated by conventional techniques. Ultrashort pulsed laser treatment represents a unique and promising new pathogen inactivation method to address the issue of emerging pathogens.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Samuel Achilefu

Committee Members

Joseph Culver, Gregory Lanza, Evan Sadler, Srikanth Singamaneni,


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