Nacho Mena, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor






Research Interests
My research interests include the phylogenetic and phenotypic characterization of animal influenza viruses isolated from wildlife and livestock species by our collaborators within the CEIRS network. We have described the first influenza viruses isolated from Northern Elephant Seals and we are studying the evolution of the swine influenza viruses ancestral to the the 2009 influenza pandemic in humans. We have also established a routine pipeline for the sequencing and analysis of the complete genome of the influenza viruses sampled by our collaborators. I also use reverse genetics to modify negative stranded RNA viruses, such as Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV) and influenza virus. We do this for different purposes, including the development of live attenuated vaccines against diseases such as swine and avian influenza virus, Ebola virus, human and bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and Rift Valley Fever or avian Bornavirus, among others. Some of these vaccine candidates have been tested in animals with very good safety, immunogenicity and protection profiles.

Notable Publications
Tripathi, S., V. R. Balasubramaniam, J. A. Brown, I. Mena, A. Grant, S. V. Bardina, K. Maringer, M. C. Schwarz, A. M. Maestre, M. Sourisseau, R. A. Albrecht, F. Krammer, M. J. Evans, A. Fernandez-Sesma, J. K. Lim, and A. Garcia-Sastre. 2017. A novel Zika virus mouse model reveals strain specific differences in virus pathogenesis and host inflammatory immune responses. PLoS Pathog 13:e1006258.

Mena, I., M. I. Nelson, F. Quezada-Monroy, J. Dutta, R. Cortes-Fernandez, J. H. Lara-Puente, F. Castro-Peralta, L. F. Cunha, N. S. Trovao, B. Lozano-Dubernard, A. Rambaut, H. van Bakel, and A. Garcia-Sastre. 2016. Origins of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in swine in Mexico. Elife 5.

Nagy, A., J. Lee, I. Mena, J. Henningson, Y. Li, J. Ma, M. Duff, Y. Lang, J. Yang, F. Abdallah, J. Richt, A. Ali, A. Garcia-Sastre, and W. Ma. 2016. Recombinant Newcastle disease virus expressing H9 HA protects chickens against heterologous avian influenza H9N2 virus challenge. Vaccine 34:2537-45.

Juozapaitis, M., E. Aguiar Moreira, I. Mena, S. Giese, D. Riegger, A. Pohlmann, D. Hoper, G. Zimmer, M. Beer, A. Garcia-Sastre, and M. Schwemmle. 2014. An infectious bat-derived chimeric influenza virus harbouring the entry machinery of an influenza A virus. Nat Commun 5:4448.

Goldstein, T., I. Mena, S. J. Anthony, R. Medina, P. W. Robinson, D. J. Greig, D. P. Costa, W. I. Lipkin, A. Garcia-Sastre, and W. M. Boyce. 2013. Pandemic H1N1 influenza isolated from free-ranging Northern Elephant Seals in 2010 off the central California coast. PLoS One 8:e62259.