James W. Noah, Ph.D.

Biochemist, Emerging and Infectious Diseases (Southern Research Institute)

Areas of Focus: respiratory diseases, human and avian influenza (HPAI) strains, nucleic acid-based antivirals, toxins 


Contact Information
Southern Research Institute
2000 Ninth Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35205
(205) 581-2804


      Dr. Noah is currently working to develop and validate several in vivo and in vitro high-throughput assays for respiratory diseases, including both human and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) strains. Assay applications include diagnostic, antiviral, or vaccine evaluations.

      These assays are crucial to identifying new compounds with antiviral properties or that may act as molecular probes of the complex life cycle of the influenza virus. The adaptation and validation of the proposed influenza assays for HTS has the potential to vastly increase the arsenal of existing antiviral drugs available to rapidly combat an influenza epidemic or pandemic With the emergence in 1997 of HPAI viruses that are directly transmittable to humans, many investigators feel that a new influenza pandemic is imminent. Specific assays adapted for high-throughput screening include a broad cell viability assay, and mechanistic assays for viral neuraminidase and M2 channel function.

      Dr. Noah also has a secondary associate faculty appointment at The University of Alabama at Birmingham in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. He has an active research program in novel antiviral discovery and the interactions of viral and host proteins (in collaboration with Dr. Sadis Matalon, UAB). Specific projects include the study of nucleic acid-based antivirals, the development of sensitive assays to detect toxins, and the function of the influenza M2 ion channel in the host cell. 

Commercial Screening Opportunities:

      Dr. Noah also routinely performs high- and low-throughput evaluations of promising commercial antivirals using the variety of primary and secondary assays developed at Southern Research. These can be performed in our BSL2 laboratories or in our newly renovated BSL3 laboratories.


      James W. Noah is a Research Biochemist for the Emerging Infectious Disease Research Program at Southern Research and adjunct faculty at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1999 from North Carolina State University, where he studied the structure of the bacterial ribosome, function of catalytic RNA, and the effect of antibiotics on both.  After postdoctoral studies, during which he studied transposable intron RNAs for use as gene therapy vectors and diagnostics at The University Texas at Austin (under the tutelage of Dr. Alan Lambowitz), Dr. Noah joined the staff at Southern Research. He has industrial experience in assay development in GLP and GMP facilities, research experience in enzyme kinetics, structure determination, and RNA-protein interactions, including investigating these interactions using photochemistry, mass spectrometry, and atomic force microscopy, and government and commercial experience in antiviral discovery and evaluation through high-throughput screening.