Balaji received his B.Tech in Industrial Biotechnology from Anna University, Madras-India and his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His graduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Lijun Rong focused on understanding the entry mechanisms of Ebola and Marburg viruses. He identified the structural and functional entry determinants in Ebola and Marburg viral glycoproteins, and demonstrated that both viruses share the same receptor(s). During his postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Sastre at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York), he engineered recombinant viruses carrying fluorescent reporter genes using the reverse genetics. This novel tool provided the unprecedented ability to follow the dynamics of influenza virus infection in vivo. He demonstrated that apart from epithelial cells, which are the primary targets of influenza virus infection, immune cells like dendritic cells, macrophages, NK- and B-cells are infected by influenza virus. As a postdoctoral fellow, he received a K99 “Pathway to Independence award” from the NIAID to investigate the role of innate pattern recognition receptors in protection against influenza viruses. He joined the Department of Microbiology at the University of Chicago in August of 2012.