Shaw M. Akula

Associate Professor

BVSc, Veterinary College and Research Institute, India
MVSc, Madras Veterinary College, India
PhD, South Dakota State University

Phone: 252-744-2702
Fax: 252-744-3104


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are one of the main classes of non-coding RNAs. These are small non-coding RNAs that regulate expression of genes in cells. The human genome encodes thousands of miRNAs. Of late, miRNAs have emerged as a pivotal component of host cell responses to a pathogen including viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

My lab’s primary focus is on:

I. Understanding the COVID-19 pathogenesis at the molecular level. This part of the study is being pursued in collaboration with Dr. Paul Cook, MD (Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases). We use human specimens/participants to determine cellular and molecular effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the biology of COVID-19.

II. Deciphering potential miRNA biomarkers of the common side effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

III. I serve as the director of BSL-3 lab. The goal of this lab is to produce pure form of different strains SARS-CoV-2 and use them in functional analysis. I am actively involved in collaborative studies to understand the Long COVID using mice as models.

The long-term goals are, (1) Decipher the biology of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 using in vitro and in vivo models; and (2) develop novel diagnostic biomarkers, and anti-viral therapies based on targeting specific miRNA-pathway(s).

Students: I train both masters’ and PhD students.

I. For Masters’ degree: As of 2023, I have served as Advisor for 9 students. All completed in 1.5 years with multiple manuscripts.

II. For PhD degree: As of 2023, I have served as advisor for 4 students. The average years to complete PhD under my guidance is 4 with multiple manuscripts.


Popular works

A GUIDE to PhD Success. Akula SM. 2012.

Beyond the Future. Akula SM. 2014

Scientific peer-reviewed works

Akula SM, Williams JF, Pokhrel LR, Bauer AN, Rajput S, Cook PP. 2022. Cellular miR-6741-5p as a Prognostic Biomarker Predicting Length of Hospital Stay among COVID-19 Patients. Viruses 14(12):2681.

Pokhrel LR, Williams F, Cook PP, O’Rourke D, Murray G, Akula SM. 2022. Preclinical efficacy and safety of novel SNAT against SARS-CoV-2 using a hamster model. Drug Deliv Transl Res. Apr 19;1-10.

Smeyne RJ, Eells JB, Chatterjee D, Byrne M, Akula SM, Sriramula S, O’Rourke DP, Schmidt P. COVID-19 Infection Enhances Susceptibility to Oxidative Stress-Induced Parkinsonism. Mov Disord. 2022 Jul;37(7):1394-1404.

Akula SM, Bolin P, Cook PP. 2022. Cellular miR-150-5p may have a crucial role to play in the biology of SARS-CoV-2 infection by regulating nsp10 gene. RNA Biol. Jan;19(1):1-11.

Akula SM, Ruvolo PP, McCubrey JA. 2020. TP53/miR-34a-associated signaling targets SERPINE1 expression in human pancreatic cancer. Aging 12:2777 – 2797.

Hussein HAM, Akula SM. 2017. miRNA-36 inhibits KSHV, EBV, HSV-2 infection of cells via stifling expression of interferon induced transmembrane protein 1 (IFITM1). Scientific Reports (In Press).

Cook PP, Stang AT, Walker LR, Akula SM. Cook FJ. 2016. Bone mineral density and vitamin D levels in HIV African-American subjects receiving Tenofovir, Emtricitabine, Efavirenz versus Raltegravir, Darunavir, Ritonavir. South Med J 109:712-717.

Walker, LR, Hussein, AMH, Akula SM. 2014. Disintegrin-like domain of glycoprotein B regulates Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infection of cells. J Gen Virol 95:1770-82.

Dyson, OF, Traylen C, Akula SM. 2010. Cell membrane bound KSHV encoded gB promotes virus latency by regulating expression of cellular Egr-1. J. Biol. Chem. 285(48):37491-37502.

Bryan BA, Dyson OF, Akula SM. 2006.Identifying Cellular Genes Crucial for the Reactivation of Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Latency. J. Gen. Virol. 87:519-529.

Akula SM, Ford PW, Whitman AG, Hamden KE, Bryan B., Cook PP, McCubrey JA. 2005. Raf Induces Expression of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Infected Human B cells. Blood 105(11): 4516-4522.

Hamden KH, Ford PW, Whitman AG, Dyson OF, Cheng SY, McCubrey JA, Akula SM. 2004.Raf induced Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Augments Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV-8) Infection. J. Virol 78(23):13381-13390.

View entire list of publications


Williams, FrankResearch SpecialistBrody 5N99/5N136252-744-2725/2727
Smit Rajput, MDFellowBrody 5N99/5N136252-744-2725/2727
Majumdar, NiskaGraduate Student (PhD)Brody 5N99/5N136252-744-2725/2727
Dickerson, AbigailGraduate Student (PhD)Brody 5N99/5N136252-744-2725/2727
Cruceanu, AndreeaBristol StudentBrody 5N99/5N136252-744-2725/2727