Dave O'Connor's headshot

Dave O’Connor

UW Medical Foundation Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

School of Medicine and Public Health | Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education | Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine | Wisconsin National Primate Research Center

Hometown: Arlington Heights, Illinois

Dave came to UW-Madison in 1997 for graduate school and has spent his entire career at UW-Madison. He studies how and why viruses make us sick and sneak past our immune defenses. Dave lives in Madison with his wife and fellow virologist Dr. Shelby O’Connor, their son, and a perpetually hungry greyhound.


Pulling viruses out of thin air
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need better ways to monitor the spread of viruses. Simply detecting viruses in air samples is a promising approach pioneered with community partners in Dane County.
Reading up on viruses
Most of us have taken home COVID-19 tests. In partnership with Dane County libraries that are distributing these tests, we can use positive tests to “read” the virus’s genome to understand which variants are in our community…and how this changes over time.
It came from the sewers
COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses are shed into the sewer system. What happens when the viruses seen in the sewer don’t match those that are found in people? This is a scientific mystery until one such rogue virus was observed in Wisconsin, where an expansive team of community members, scientists, clinicians, and public health officials worked together to track it down.

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