Yorgo Modis

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Yorgo Modis
Yorgo Modis.jpg
Yorgo Modis in 2016
Yorgo Eugene Modis

1974 (age 45–46)
NationalitySwitzerland-United States-Greece
Alma materInternational School of Geneva (IB)
University of Cambridge (BA, MA)
European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg (PhD)
Scientific career
Structural Biology
InstitutionsEuropean Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg
Harvard Medical School
Yale University
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Cambridge
Academic advisorsRik A. Wierenga
Stephen C. Harrison

Yorgo E. Modis (born 1974) is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, and Reader in Virology and Immunology, at the Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge. He is head of The Modis Lab in the Molecular Immunity Unit at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. He studies cellular mechanisms of viral gene sensing and silencing. His group employs a diverse set of complementary biophysical approaches including cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM), X-ray crystallography, solution biophysics, fluorescence microscopy and cell biological approaches to understand the cellular mechanisms of viral gene sensing and silencing in molecular-level detail.

Education and early life[edit]

Modis received his International Baccalaureate from the International School of Geneva, Switzerland. He then studied Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. He did his graduate work in Structural Biology with Rik A. Wierenga at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory Heidelberg obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Leeds in 1999. For the next six years he worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow with Stephen C. Harrison at Harvard Medical School, Boston, U.S.A.

Research and professional experience[edit]

While at Harvard (1999–2005) Modis co-authored five publications that featured on the cover of international scientific journals.[1][2][3][4] Among them was the subject of viral entry into host cells by the dengue virus, which became a cover story on Nature (journal).[5] The work gave rise to an award-winning animation Dengue Viral Fusion.
At Yale Modis was first Assistant Professor (2005–2010) and then Associate Professor (2010–2014) of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry. In those capacities he carried out research that led to numerous publications on which he was corresponding author and/or principal investigator.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]
In 2014 Modis accepted a position as Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at University of Cambridge. He became the head of research group The Modis Lab at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. Two years later he was named University Reader in Virology and Immunology. In these capacities Modis has co-authored a number of publications as principal investigator.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23]
A full list of his publications (around 70) can be found here.
He has also been invited to, organized, or served as keynote speaker in over 100 seminars and conferences.
In May 2020 he helped Roger Highfield to set up a blog at the Science Museum Group with the theme Coronavirus: How the Virus Works.
In July 2020 he contributed graphics of the COVID-19 virus to the BBC News article by John Sudworth with title Wuhan: City of silence — Looking for answers in the place where coronavirus started.

Honors and Awards[edit]

2019 Senior Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust
2014 Senior Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust
2009 CINE Golden Eagle Award for the animation “Dengue Virus Visualization” on Teachers’ Domain 
2008 Nominated for the 2009 American Crystallography Association Margaret C. Etter Early Career Award (the award went to Dr. Svilen Bobev)
2007 Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease, Burroughs Wellcome Fund
2007 Anderson Endowed Bridge Fellowship Award, Yale University
2006 Anderson Endowed Fellowship Award, Yale University
2000-2004 Human Frontier Science Program Organization Long-Term Postdoctoral Fellowship
1999-2000 European Molecular Biology Organization Long-Term Fellowship
1999 Roche Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)
1999 Swiss National Science Foundation Fellowship (declined)
1995-1999 Predoctoral Fellowship, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (4 years)
1995 Bateman Scholarship- First Class Honors Degree, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, U.K.
1995 Kareen Thorne Prize- Top First Class Honors Degree in Biological Sciences, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, U.K.
1995 First Class Honours (top grade) Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, U.K.
1992 Top grade (7) in all six subjects of the International Baccalaureate at the International School of Geneva, Switzerland

Personal life[edit]

Modis is the son of Theodore Modis and Carole Gene Modis. He is the great-grandson of Theodoros Modis[24][25] and grandnephew of Georgios Modis.


  1. ^ Yorgo Modis, Benes L. Trus & Stephen C. Harrison (2002). An atomic model of the papillomavirus capsid. EMBO J., 21, 4754-4762
  2. ^ Yorgo Modis, Steven Ogata, David Clements & Stephen C. Harrison (2003). A ligand-binding pocket in the dengue virus envelope glycoprotein. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 100, 6986-6991
  3. ^ Bert van den Berg, William M. Clemons Jr., Ian Collinson, Yorgo Modis, Enno Hartmann, Stephen C. Harrison & Tom A. Rapoport (2004). X-ray structure of a protein-conducting channel. Nature, 427, 36-44
  4. ^ Yorgo Modis, Steven Ogata, David Clements & Stephen C. Harrison (2005). Variable surface epitopes in the crystal structure of dengue virus type 3 envelope glycoprotein. J. Virol., 79, 1223-1231
  5. ^ Yorgo Modis, Steven Ogata, David Clements & Stephen C. Harrison (2004). Structure of the dengue virus envelope protein after membrane fusion. Nature, 427, 313-319.
  6. ^ Ryuta Kanai, Kalipada Kar, Karen Anthony, L. Hannah Gould, Michel Ledizet, Erol Fikrig, Wayne A. Marasco, Ray A. Koski & Yorgo Modis (2006). Crystal structure of West Nile virus envelope glycoprotein reveals viral surface epitopes. J. Virol., 80, 11000-8
  7. ^ Alvaro Arjona, Michel Ledizet, Karen Anthony, Nathalie Bonafé, Yorgo Modis, Terrence Town & Erol Fikrig (2007). West Nile virus envelope protein inhibits dsRNA-induced innate immune responses. J. Immunol., 179, 8403-9
  8. ^ Vinod Nayak, Moshe Dessau, Kaury Kucera, Karen Anthony, Michel Ledizet & Yorgo Modis (2009). Crystal structure of dengue type 1 envelope protein in the postfusion conformation and its implication for receptor binding, membrane fusion and antibody recognition. J. Virol., 83, 4338-44.
  9. ^ Yue Li, Ian C. Berke & Yorgo Modis (2012). DNA binding to proteolytically activated TLR9 is sequence-independent and enhanced by DNA curvature. EMBO J. 31, 919-31.
  10. ^ Ian C. Berke & Yorgo Modis (2012). MDA5 cooperatively forms dimers and ATP-sensitive filaments upon binding double-stranded RNA. EMBO J., 31, 1714-26.
  11. ^ Ian C. Berke, Xiong Yu, Yorgo Modis & Edward H. Egelman (2012). MDA5 assembles into a polar helical filament on double-stranded RNA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 109, 18437-41.
  12. ^ Moshe Dessau, Daniel Goldhill, Robert C. McBride, Paul E. Turner & Yorgo Modis (2012). Selective pressure causes an RNA virus to trade reproductive fitness for increased structural and thermal stability of a viral enzyme. PLoS Genet., 8, e1003102.
  13. ^ Moshe Dessau & Yorgo Modis (2013). Crystal structure of glycoprotein C from Rift Valley fever virus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 110, 1696-1701.
  14. ^ Yue Li, Jimin Wang, Ryuta Kanai & Yorgo Modis (2013). Crystal structure of glycoprotein E2 from bovine viral diarrhea virus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 110, 6805-10.
  15. ^ Adel M. Nour, Yue Li, Joseph Wolenski & Yorgo Modis (2013). Viral membrane fusion and nucleocapsid delivery into the cytoplasm are distinct events in some flaviviruses. PLOS Pathog., 9, e1003585.
  16. ^ Danillo L.A. Espósito, Jennifer B. Nguyen, David C. DeWitt, Elizabeth Rhoades & Yorgo Modis (2015). Physico-chemical requirements and kinetics of membrane fusion of flavivirus-like particles. J. Gen. Virol, 96, 1702–1711.
  17. ^ Emily V. Wong, Wenxiang Cao, Judit Vörös, Monique Merchant, Yorgo Modis, David D. Hackney, Ben Montpetit & Enrique M. De La Cruz (2016). Pi release limits the intrinsic and RNA-stimulated ATPase cycles of DEAD-box protein 5 (Dbp5). J. Mol. Biol., 428, 492-508.
  18. ^ Chang-Min Lee, Chuan Hua He, Adel M Nour, Yang Zhou, Bing Ma, Jin Wook Park, Kyung Hee Kim, Charles Dela Cruz, Lokesh Kumar Sharma, Mahmoud L Nasr, Yorgo Modis, Chun Geun Lee & Jack A Elias (2016). IL-13Rα2 uses TMEM219 in chitinase 3-like-1-induced signaling and effector responses. Nat. Commun., 7, 12752.
  19. ^ Shmuel Willensky, Hagit Bar-Rogovsky, Eduardo A. Bignon, Nicole D. Tischler, Yorgo Modis & Moshe Dessau (2016). Crystal structure of glycoprotein C from a hantavirus in the post-fusion conformation. PLoS Pathog., 12, e1005948.
  20. ^ Iva A. Tchasovnikarova, Richard T. Timms, Christopher H. Douse, Rhys C. Roberts, Gordon Dougan, Robert E. Kingston, Yorgo Modis & Paul J. Lehner (2017). Hyper-activation of HUSH complex function by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease mutation in MORC2. Nat. Genet., 9, 1035.
  21. ^ Michael K. Fenwick, Yue Li, Stephen Almo, Peter Cresswell, Yorgo Modis & Steven E. Ealick (2017). Structural studies of viperin, an antiviral radical SAM enzyme (2017). Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 114, 6806.
  22. ^ Christopher Sng, Sorcha O’Byrne, Daniil M. Prigozhin, Matthias R Bauer, Jenny C. Harvey, Michelle Ruhle, Ben G. Challis, Sara Lear, Lee Roberts, Sarita Workman, Tobias Janowitz, L. Magiera, Rainer Doffinger, Matthew S. Buckland, Duncan J. Jodrell, Robert K. Semple, Timothy J. Wilson, Yorgo Modis & James E. D. Thaventhiran (2018). A Type III Complement Factor D Deficiency: Structural insights for inhibition of the alternative pathway. J. Allergy Clin. Immun., 142, 311.
  23. ^ Ming-Shih Hwang, Jérôme Boulanger, Jonathan Howe, Anna Albecka, Mathias Pasche, Leila Mureşan & Yorgo Modis (2019). Endogenous MAVS oligomers smaller than 80 nm induce mitochondrial membrane remodeling and interferon signaling. FEBS J., 286, 1543-1560. PMC6513760.
  24. ^ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greek_Macedonian_Theodoros_Modis_Bitola.JPG#filehistory
  25. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S1ZCkv2LhY/