Jeffrey I. Cohen, M.D.

Senior Investigator

Medical Virology Section


Building 50, Room 6134
50 South Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892


Research Topics

We study the molecular genetics, pathogenesis, and clinical aspects of human herpesviruses, including Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), varicella-zoster virus (VZV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV). The laboratory focuses on vaccine development, genes important for virus entry and replication, and identification of cellular mutations in patients with severe herpesvirus infections. Recent findings include development of candidate vaccines for HSV and rhesus EBV; identification of cellular genes that predispose to severe EBV infections; discovery of cells in the blood, other than B cells, that are infected by EBV; and a novel entry molecule for VZV into cells.

Clinical projects complement the laboratory studies. These include a Phase I study of a replication defective herpes simplex virus vaccine, studies of patients with severe virus infections to define genetic mutations or polymorphisms associated with the disease, studies of patients with EBV diseases, studies of immune responses in persons after vaccination with the smallpox or varicella vaccines, and attempts to identify novel viruses in patients with unexplained syndromes.


Dr. Cohen received his M.D. from The Johns Hopkins University and was a resident in medicine at Duke University. Following a medical staff fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he was a clinical fellow in infectious diseases at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard University. He returned to NIH, where he was the chief of the Medical Virology Section in the Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases until 2010. In June 2010, Dr. Cohen became chief of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases.


  • American Association of Physicians
  • American Society for Clinical Investigation
  • Infectious Diseases Society of America
  • American Academy of Microbiology

Editorial Boards

  • Journal of Virology
  • Virology
  • Journal of Infectious Diseases
  • Virus Genes
  • Associate Editor Fields Virology

Selected Publications

  1. Cheung F, Apps R, Dropulic L, Kotliarov Y, Chen J, Jordan T, Langweiler M, Candia J, Biancotto A, Han KL, Rachmaninoff N, Pietz H, Wang K, Tsang JS, Cohen JI. Sex and prior exposure jointly shape innate immune responses to a live herpesvirus vaccine. Elife. 2023;12.
  2. Chen WH, Kim J, Bu W, Board NL, Tsybovsky Y, Wang Y, Hostal A, Andrews SF, Gillespie RA, Choe M, Stephens T, Yang ES, Pegu A, Peterson CE, Fisher BE, Mascola JR, Pittaluga S, McDermott AB, Kanekiyo M, Joyce MG, Cohen JI. Epstein-Barr virus gH/gL has multiple sites of vulnerability for virus neutralization and fusion inhibition. Immunity. 2022;55(11):2135-2148.e6.
  3. Bu W, Joyce MG, Nguyen H, Banh DV, Aguilar F, Tariq Z, Yap ML, Tsujimura Y, Gillespie RA, Tsybovsky Y, Andrews SF, Narpala SR, McDermott AB, Rossmann MG, Yasutomi Y, Nabel GJ, Kanekiyo M, Cohen JI. Immunization with Components of the Viral Fusion Apparatus Elicits Antibodies That Neutralize Epstein-Barr Virus in B Cells and Epithelial Cells. Immunity. 2019;50(5):1305-1316.e6.
  4. Wang K, Hoshino Y, Dowdell K, Bosch-Marce M, Myers TG, Sarmiento M, Pesnicak L, Krause PR, Cohen JI. Glutamine supplementation suppresses herpes simplex virus reactivation. J Clin Invest. 2017;127(7):2626-2630.
  5. Kanekiyo M, Bu W, Joyce MG, Meng G, Whittle JR, Baxa U, Yamamoto T, Narpala S, Todd JP, Rao SS, McDermott AB, Koup RA, Rossmann MG, Mascola JR, Graham BS, Cohen JI, Nabel GJ. Rational Design of an Epstein-Barr Virus Vaccine Targeting the Receptor-Binding Site. Cell. 2015;162(5):1090-100.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Sunday, August 20, 2023