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School of Medicine Columbia

Faculty and Staff

Sujit Pujhari, Ph.D.

Title: Research Assistant Professor
Director of Viral Vector Core
Department: Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience
School of Medicine Columbia
LinkedIn: My LinkedIn profile
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M.Sc. Life Sciences: Sambalpur University, Jyoti Vihar, Odisha, India

Ph.D. Virology : Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Postdoctoral: Pennsylvania State University (USA)

                             Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization International Vaccine Center, University of Saskatchewan



The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has highlighted the significant impact that a virus can have on the world. The current global situation serves as a reminder of the importance of developing effective tools for controlling the spread of viruses, such as vaccines, rapid diagnostic tests, and a deeper understanding of disease pathogenesis to aid patient treatment.

While viruses can be frightening, they also offer unique opportunities for understanding fundamental biological processes and developing gene therapy candidates. In particular, viral vectors such as AAV and lentiviral vectors have become increasingly valuable in neuroscience research for studying cellular, molecular, and neurocircuit functions.

Our laboratory is dedicated to fighting infectious and non-infectious diseases through traditional and modern tools and technologies. Our expertise in working with human, veterinary, and mosquito vector systems allows us to approach human disease from a unified health perspective and adapt our methods to the system to provide the clearest understanding and the best solution to our research questions. Our current research focus includes 1) Engineering and developing AAV and lentivirus vectors for neuroscience and infectious disease research. 2) Establishing human brain organoids as a model to study the molecular mechanisms of psychiatric and other neurological disorders. 3) Developing Virus Reporter Particles (VRPs) and diagnostic ELISAs for fighting to emerge and re-emerging viral diseases.


R21    AI151475 (NIH/NIAID) 2021-2023  Identification and validation of Zika virus receptor(s) in the midgut lumen of Aedes aegypti.

Lab members: 

Dr. Sanja Dokic (Postdoc)

Lab Manager:

Mr. Andrew Shuler

Lab Alumni:

Mr. Ronald Smithwick

Ms. Morgan Lano

Selected Publications

Brustolin M, Pujhari S*, Terradas G, Werling K, Asad S, Metz HC, Henderson CA, Kim D, Rasgon JL. In Vitro and In Vivo Coinfection and Superinfection Dynamics of Mayaro and Zika Viruses in Mosquito and Vertebrate Backgrounds. J Virol. 2023 Jan 4:e0177822. doi: 10.1128/jvi.01778-22. (*Co-first author)

Pujhari S*, Brustolin M, Heu CC, Smithwick R, Larrosa M, Hafenstein S, Rasgon JL. Characterization of Mayaro virus (strain BeAn343102) biology in vertebrate and invertebrate cellular backgrounds. J Gen Virol. 2022 Oct;103(10). doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.001794. (*Co-corresponding author)

Kumar S, Hol FJH, Pujhari S*, Ellington C, Narayanan HV, Li H, Rasgon JL, Prakash M. A microfluidic platform for highly parallel bite by bite profiling of mosquito-borne pathogen transmission. Nat Commun. 2021 Oct 14;12(1):6018. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-26300-0. 

Pujhari S, Paul S, Ahluwalia J, Rasgon JL. Clotting disorder in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Rev Med Virol. 2021 May;31(3):e2177. doi: 10.1002/rmv.2177. Epub 2020 Oct 6 (Corresponding author)

Pujhari S, Brustolin M, Macias VM, Nissly RH, Nomura M, Kuchipudi SV, Rasgon JL. Heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) mediates Zika virus entry, replication, and egress from host cells. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2019;8(1):8-16. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2018.1557988.

Brustolin M, Pujhari S*, Henderson CA, Rasgon JL. Anopheles mosquitoes may drive invasion and transmission of Mayaro virus across geographically diverse regions. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2018 Nov 7;12(11):e0006895. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0006895. (Co-first author)

Pujhari S, Rasgon JL. Mice with humanized-lungs and immune system - an idealized model for COVID-19 and other respiratory illness. Virulence. 2020 Dec;11(1):486-488. doi: 10.1080/21505594.2020.1763637. PMID: 32434416; PMCID: PMC7250318. (Corresponding author)

Chaverra-Rodriguez D, Macias VM, Hughes GL, Pujhari S, Suzuki Y, Peterson DR, Kim D, McKeand S, Rasgon JL. Targeted delivery of CRISPR-Cas9 ribonucleoprotein into arthropod ovaries for heritable germline gene editing. Nat Commun. 2018 Aug 1;9(1):3008. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05425-9. PMID: 30068905; PMCID: PMC6070532.

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