ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Through help of a grant from the American Lung Association Research Institute, local scientist Dr. Steven Baker is digging into how viruses interact with the human body, more specifically, the flu.

“It’s a huge door that’s opened,” Dr. Baker said.

When someone is infected with a virus, the body has a self-defense mechanism which fights the infection. Though researchers have an understanding of how the body fights off infections, there are still properties of the process that scientists like Dr. Baker would like to research further.

“One thing that we’re always trying to study is what are those little unique tricks that the body has encoded within in our genomes that we can identify to potentially utilize to fight off future infections,” Dr. Baker explained.

Baker’s research, he says will give the medical industry a better understanding of these properties, and how to prevent or reduce future viral diseases. Baker added that through this study done in New Mexico at Lovelace Biomedical, scientists across the country may be able to design new medicines to combat viruses of different types- including the flu.

“After we identify things that are relevant for influenza, to then apply that knowledge toward other viral RNA pathogens,” Baker said.

Baker’s lab is receiving $200,000 over two years for his research. The American Lung Association Research Institute awarded a little over 13-million dollars in research grants this year.