As the coronavirus spread around the globe, Jeremy Prokop wondered why it causes relatively mild symptoms in some patients while it is deadly for others.

“In a subset of patients – and we really don’t know why yet – they start to get heart failure, kidney failure, and their systems start shutting down,” he said. “One of our areas of interest was in finding out what makes COVID-19 so much more severe than other coronaviruses. This has been the big challenge with COVID.”

To find out why, Prokop, PhD, assistant professor, teamed up with other researchers, including several College of Human Medicine students, to study how the virus invades and interacts with human cells. Their work resulted in three published studies identifying key proteins made by the virus and genetic variants in some patients that make it much more deadly.

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