Meet the CVI Team – Karen Norris, PhD

By Erica Hensley

Norris’ work focuses on infectious and chronic diseases, including HIV, pulmonary diseases, inflammatory diseases and diabetes. She is an expert in immunology and microbiology, and has built a collaborative lab full of veterinary, virology and cardiology experts who facilitate animal models that enable research to move from the bench to the bedside, she said. 

“The purpose of CVI is to understand immunity to infectious agents for the purpose of developing vaccine and preventing disease,” explained Norris. “In order to do that, we need to move our scientific findings up and out of the lab into clinical trials or to a company that will perform clinical trials.” 

A lot of Norris’ work looks at co-infections that arise from HIV and respiratory infections, and an important part of tracking those over time involves having long-term cohort models that have controlled variables, in order to isolate an intervention target. 

Norris was drawn to the CVI based on her previous research collaborations with Ross during their time together at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as the potential for further collaboration with new faculty. (Ross was on faculty at the University of Pittsburgh from 2003-2013.) “With the resources of UGA and the College of Veterinary Medicine, we were able to renovate a facility and bring in personnel and expertise to operate it as a core facility, so that another investigator who does not have the expertise or ability to set up models from scratch can do pilot studies with our expertise,” she said.  “We can broaden the ability of other investigators to advance their research one more step.”

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