Interested in joining our team? We are recruiting postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergrads to pursue projects about flavivirus pathogenesis, innate immunity, and congenital infections. Contact Dr. Lazear for details.


Helen Lazear

Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology

9021 Burnett-Womack Building
helen.lazear [at]

Helen grew up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and majored in Biochemistry at the University of Alberta. She received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied herpes simplex virus neuronal transport in Harvey Friedman's lab. Her postdoctoral research, with Mike Diamond at Washington University in St. Louis, focused on innate immune control of West Nile virus pathogenesis. She joined the Microbiology and Immunology Department at UNC in Fall 2015. Work in the Lazear Lab focuses on pathogenic mechanisms of flaviviruses and the innate immune mechanisms that determine tissue and species tropism



Melissa Mattocks

Lab Manager melissa_mattocks [at]

Melissa grew up in North Carolina and received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill. She worked on the development and production of a tetravalent dengue vaccine at the Carolina Vaccine Institute at UNC and later at Global Vaccines, Inc., a not-for-profit vaccine company. Melissa returned to UNC in 2016, joining the Lazear lab as Lab Manager.

Mattocks MD, Plante KS, Fritch EJ, Baric RS, Ferris MT, Heise MT, Lazear HM (2019) Zika virus infection in Collaborative Cross mice. bioRxiv.


Derek Carbaugh

PhD Candidate dcar5 [at]

Derek grew up in Lancaster, PA and majored in Biology at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. He did a summer undergraduate research experience (SURE) internship at UNC-CH in the genetics department prior to his last semester of undergraduate studies. He is now a 4th-year PhD student in the Microbiology & Immunology program. His work currently focuses on understanding viral and host determinants of Zika virus pathogenesis.


Carbaugh DL, Baric RS, Lazear HM (2019) Envelope protein glycosylation mediates Zika virus pathogenesis. Journal of Virology. 93(12):e00113-19. PMID: 30944176.

Widman D, Young E, Yount BL, Plante KS, Gallichotte EN, Carbaugh DL, Peck KM, Plante J, Swanstrom J, Heise MT, Lazear HM, Baric RS (2017) A reverse genetics platform that spans the Zika virus family tree. mBio. 8(2). pii: e02014-16. PMID 28270583


Cesar Lopez

PhD Candidate cesar_lopez [at]

Cesar grew up in Modesto, CA, and received his BA from Rice University in Philosophy as well as Biochemistry & Cell Biology. He worked in Jason Kimata's lab at Baylor College of Medicine as an undergraduate, studying innate immune restriction of SIV by SAMHD1, as well as a summer internship with Peter Hotez studying a Trypanosoma cruzi vaccine. He is currently a 4th-year MD/PhD student in the Microbiology & Immunology program, investigating how prior dengue immunity affects congenital and sexual transmission of Zika virus.


Collins M, McGowan E, Jadi R, Young E, Lopez CA, Baric RS, Lazear HM, de Silva AM (2017) Dengue infection does not elicit durable cross-neutralizing antibodies against Zika virus. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 23(5):773-781. PMID 28418292

Lakshmanane P, Collins M, Graham S, Liou GJA, Lopez CA, Jadi R,  Balmaseda A, Brackbill JA, Dietze R, Camacho E,  de Silva DA, Giuberti C, Lucia dos Reis H, Singh T, Heimsath H, Weiskopf D, Sette A, Osorio JE, Permar SR, Miley MJ, Lazear HM, Harris E, de Silva AM (2018) Development of envelope protein antigens to serologically differentiate Zika from dengue virus infection. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 2018;56(3). PMID: 29263206.


Becca Casazza

PhD Candidate rcasazza [at]

Becca is originally from New England; she grew up in Bedford, NH and received her BA in Biology from College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. There she began her research training in the lab of Dr. Ann Sheehy studying the anti-HIV mechanisms of the Apobec3G protein. Becca is a 3rd-year PhD student in the Microbiology & Immunology program; her research in the Lazear Laboratory focuses on understanding the role of interferon lambda in restricting congenital infections such as Zika and rubella viruses.


Casazza RL, Lazear HM (2018) Antiviral immunity backfires: Pathogenic effects of type I interferon signaling in fetal development. Science Immunology. 5;3(19). pii: eaar3446.. PMID 29305463


Pedro Martinez Barbosa

PREP Student pedromb [at]

Pedro grew up in Puerto Rico, where he received his BS in Microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo. In 2018 he participated in the SOLAR summer research program at UNC Chapel Hill, during which he did research on the topic of HIV latency reversal in the Margolis Lab. Currently, he is a PREP scholar in the Lazear Lab where he hopes to explore the role of interferon lambda in restricting rubella virus infections and how this relates to Zika virus infection, as both viruses are known to cross the placenta and cause congenital defects.


Ciara Darden

High School Intern (Young Innovators Program)



Leah Gilmore
UNC Undergrad student
gilmorel [at]


Tesia Bobrowski
UNC Undergrad student


Clayton Morrison
Visiting scientist
Stride Bio


Marta Cruz Cisneros
BBSP Rotation Student
PhD student (Heise Lab)
mcruzcis [at]

Jenny Loome
BBSP Rotation Student
PhD student (Heise Lab)
jloome [at]