Carolina Arias

Assistant Professor of MCDB

Graduate Diversity Officer

Dr. Arias earned a PhD degree in Microbiology at New York University (NYU) Sackler Institute for Graduate Biomedical Sciences in 2008, where she studied virus-host interactions in Herpesviruses and Poxviruses. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Don Ganem at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and then at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), Dr. Arias studied the genome-wide transcriptional and translational regulation of the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV8). In January 2016, Dr. Arias joined the laboratory of Dr. Joseph DeRisi at UCSF where she conducted comprehensive drug screens to identify FDA-approved compounds that could be used to curtail Zika virus infection. Dr. Arias joined the UCSB faculty in 2016.

The Arias Lab focuses on understanding virus-host interactions. Because of the strict dependence of viruses on the molecular machineries of their hosts, complex strategies have evolved to enable viruses to control the cell to their advantage. In a way, viruses can be thought of as molecular tinkerers that became engineers. As such, viruses provide unique opportunities to peer into the inner workings of the cell: by understanding the mechanisms by which viruses control their host cells, we get valuable insights into basic cell biology.

To understand how viruses use the cellular components to translate, fold and modify their proteins, we use cutting edge high-throughput methods, including ribosome profiling and CRISPR-based genetic screens. Ribosome profiling sheds light on the translational engagement of both viral and host transcripts during the course of the infection, providing a unique perspective on the translational overhaul occurring during viral infections. The CRISPR-based genetic screens are designed to single out host factors that promote or limit infection. This strategy has the power to reveal promising new avenues for the development of antivirals targeting the host, thereby circumventing the problem of virus-acquired drug resistance.

Research Areas

Biomedical Sciences
Cell Biology
Genetics & Genomics
Microbiology & Immunology
Systems & Quantitative Biology


2016 Postdoctoral fellow, Laboratory of Joe DeRisi, University of California, San Francisco
2011-2015 Postdoctoral fellow, Laboratory of Don Ganem, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research
2009-2011 Postdoctoral fellow, Laboratory of Don Ganem, University of California, San Francisco