Vincent Racaniello

Vincent Racaniello 300

Hello everyone,

I am Vincent Racaniello, Higgins Professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. I am using Zika Diaries to communicate the experiences of my laboratory as it moves from working on poliovirus (for 35 years) to Zika virus.

I was fortunate to be trained in virology by two brilliant virologists. I obtained my Ph.D. with Peter Palese at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. As his first student, I received a great deal of attention as I worked on influenza viruses. For my postdoctoral work I was lucky to work with David Baltimore, just a few years after he received his Nobel Prize. In his laboratory at MIT I produced the first infectious DNA copy of an animal virus, a finding that revolutionized the study of viruses. I moved to Columbia in 1982 to start my own laboratory. Over the years our main focus has been on poliovirus.

Halfway into my research career, I developed an interest in science communication. I became part of the team that produced the ASM textbook 'Principles of Virology' in 2000. Having learned about all viruses (not just poliovirus), I wanted to share this knowledge with the public. Blogging had just become much easier, so in 2004 I started writing at virology blog (, which I continue to this day. I also produce, with ASM, a suite of science podcasts, including the flagship This Week in Virology ( When I decided to teach an undergraduate virology course at Columbia University, I recorded all my lectures and released them at YouTube. All of these efforts are enhanced by the ability to reach millions via Twitter, Facebook, and other internet based technologies. You know where to find me - just google me.

Despite all this fun and fascinating activity, I jumped at the opportunity to write a new blog for ASM. Zika virus moved into world view in 2015 and many virologists, including myself, have moved to work on this important virus. I thought it would be illuminating to provide a weekly, personal view of our success and failures. All centered on an image from my laboratory (yes, I’m also at

Questions and comments are always welcome.