Herbert “Skip” Virgin, M.D., Ph.D.

Herbert “Skip” Virgin, M.D., Ph.D.

Skip Virgin is executive vice president for research and chief scientific officer at Vir Biotechnology, an infectious diseases therapeutics company located in Mission Bay, San Francisco. Previously, he served as the Edward Mallinckrodt Professor and chair of the department of pathology and immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo., a position he held from 2006 through 2017.

Skip’s lab uses genetic, structural, computational and sequencing methods to define mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and immunity in vivo, with many studies focusing on mouse models. His team identified the physiologic role and molecular mechanisms of several RNA and DNA virus immune evasion molecules, and studied immune effector mechanisms including ISG15, interferon-γ, interferon-λ, cGAS and autophagy genes. They discovered major roles for autophagy genes in the regulation of inflammation and immunity. As part of these studies, they developed and applied the concept of host complementation to define the in vivo mechanisms of viral immune evasion genes. Pathogen discovery efforts led to the discovery of the first murine norovirus, the first culture of a norovirus and the demonstration that virus infection can trigger novel disease-like pathologies in mice carrying mutations in human disease-susceptibility genes. They also conducted next-generation sequencing-based studies that linked the human virome to enteropathy in AIDS, inflammatory bowel diseases and risk for the development of type 1 diabetes in at-risk children.

Skip became a faculty member at Washington University School of Medicine in 1991, prior to becoming department chair in 2006. He is a member of the editorial boards of Cell and Cell Host and Microbe and previously served on the board of reviewing editors at Science. Skip is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the American Association of Physicians, the American Academy of Microbiology and the National Academy of Sciences.

Skip received his A.B., M.D., and Ph.D. from Harvard University and trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and in infectious diseases at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He performed graduate work with Dr. Emil Unanue in bacterial immunity and postdoctoral studies with Dr. Bernard Fields in viral genetics and pathogenesis.