Single Cell Virology

HSV-1 spread from a single infected cell


Why do some cells become successfully infected by viruses while others do not?

I am fascinated with the vast heterogeneity presented by seemingly identical cells during all stages of viral infection. My studies, as well as others, have shown extreme cell-to-cell variability among infected cells in the outcome of infection (abortive/productive), the timing and level of viral gene expression and the number of progeny they produce.

I aim to uncover the molecular determinants of viral infection outcome, a fundamental question in Virology and Cell Biology, the answer to which will allow the rational design of new anti-viral therapies. My research focuses on developing new approaches to interrogate virus-host interactions at the single cell level, by combining viral genetics, single-cell RNA-sequencing,  microfluidics, live-cell imaging and machine learning, using Herpes Simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) as a model system. I am currently investigating two striking phenomena revealed by studying infection at the single cell level: (1) the ability of some cells to abort infection after viral gene expression has commenced and (2) the fact most infected cells release very few progeny while a small fraction of cells release thousands (“super producers”).


To help disseminate and adapt single cell technologies for use in virology, Prof. Raul Andino (UCSF) and I co-organized the first Single Cell Virology symposium  during the ASV 2018 meeting.



Nir Drayman, PhD
Post-doctoral fellow
The lab of Savas Tay
Pritzker School for Molecular Engineering and the Institute for Systems Biology
The University of Chicago
900 E. 57th street, Chicago, IL


Isolation of cells and RNA capture beads in droplets for single cell RNA sequencing (Drop-seq)