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Monique Merchant

College positions:
Research Fellow
Structural Virology
Department of Pathology
Contact details:

Dr Monique Merchant

Monique Merchant is a virologist and structural biologist in the Department of Pathology, working in the Division of Virology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, part of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Dr Merchant studied Biochemistry at Russell Sage College, USA and went on to complete a Master’s in Microbial Pathogenesis at Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, USA. She received her PhD in Medicine at Peterhouse, the University of Cambridge, in 2020. Her doctoral research involved the study of 20-million-year-old viral glycoproteins found within endogenous viruses of the human hookworm. This study of early nematode viruses features a novel mechanism for retrovirus and host genomic evolution that links membrane fusion in virus cell entry to the evolution of eukaryotic sex and gamete fusion in fertilisation. Her current research is funded by the Royal Society in collaboration with the University of São Paulo and University of Cambridge.

Dr Merchant works to develop low-cost diagnostic lateral flow tests for the neglected tropical disease Oropouche fever. This neglected disease is caused by Oropouche virus, an orthobunyavirus transmitted between human and animal populations by biting insects in South America and the Caribbean. In a parallel effort, Dr. Merchant is developing novel vaccines and antiviral therapeutics and studying the underlying molecular mechanism for virus entry into host cells.

A climate activist, policy advocate and Public Engagement and Media Fellow with Cambridge Zero, Dr Merchant advocates for bio-surveillance and pandemic-preparedness in the form of equitable vaccines, diagnostic resources, and infrastructure to combat the spread of infectious disease in the wake of climate change.

Select publications

  • Addressing Climate Change Impacts on Health, Academy of Scientific Research and Technology in Egypt & UK Universities Climate Network, Working Policy Paper for COP27 (2022)
  • A bioactive phlebovirus-like envelope protein in a hookworm endogenous virus, M. Merchant et al., Sci. Adv. 8, eabj6894 (2022)
  • Pi Release Limits the Intrinsic and RNA-Stimulated ATPase Cycles of DEAD-Box Protein (Dbp5), E. Wong et al., J. Mol. Biol. 428: 492-508 (2015)
  • Total Inhibition of 1O2-induced Oxidative Damage to Guanine Bases of DNA/RNA by Turmeric Extracts, P. Joshi et al., Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 452: 515-519 (2014)

Select awards

  • Cambridge Zero Public Engagement and Media Fellowship, 2022
  • Clare Hall Research Fellowship in the Sciences, 2022