McArdle Blog ~ 9/16/2014

We are McArdle

Editor’s note: This series aims to show the diversity of the students, post-docs, faculty, and staff who make up The McArdle Laboratory family. The inspiration for this series comes primarily from the “This is what science looks like at NC State” series featured on The Abstract. This post is written by Nuruddin Unchwaniwala.

My name is Nuruddin Unchwaniwala and I am a graduate student in the Cancer Biology department here at UW-Madison.  I joined Dr. Dan Loeb’s lab in the spring of 2011, and since then I have been studying the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV).


About 350 million people worldwide are chronically infected with HBV and 600,000 people die every year from HBV related complications. Hence, there is an urgent need to find better treatments.

My research specifically focuses on using fluorescent proteins and microscopy to visualize HBV proteins in cells and understand their trafficking under various replication conditions. The goal of my research is to help identify where the viral life cycle takes place within infected cells and uncover novel host processes required for the viral life cycle, thereby potentially identifying new targets for therapy.

My interest in microorganisms and viruses started in high school when I became fascinated with how diverse microscopic life forms are and how significantly they impact our lives.  This interest drove me to major in Microbiology for my undergraduate and master’s degrees.

After completing my master’s degree, I started working as an Application Specialist at a company called Hemogenomics. I collaborated with hospitals in Mumbai, India, to introduce a more sensitive testing method for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus for blood donors. This newer method of testing significantly reduced both false negatives and the window period to detect these viruses, which in turn increased the safety of blood transfusions.

As with any new job, I found this position was very interesting to begin with, but as time progressed, my input became mechanical with little intellectual stimulation. Working at Hemogenomics had already built up my appetite for working with viruses, so I decided to apply to PhD programs in the US at universities that had a broad spectrum of virology research and the McArdle Laboratory has turned out to be a great match for my interests.

Apart from research, my interests are playing cricket and billiards. Growing up in India, I played a lot of cricket and I was pleased to learn that Madison has a very competitive cricket league.  Cricket keeps me occupied during the weekends during summer and early fall. I also play competitively in the pool leagues in Madison, and it adds a great balance to my life along with my research at UW.

Also, having been born and raised in the noisy city of Mumbai, the quiet parks in Madison have been a pleasant surprise, and I like to spend time there whenever the weather permits.