Research | Publications | Awards | Posters & Presentations
Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics
Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Mentor: Luis Giavedoni, Ph.D.
Tel: (210) 258-9678Fax: (210) 670-3310
Converse College: Bachelor of Science, Biology
The emergence of HIV in humans was the result of multiple cross-species transmissions of simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIV) from non-human primates (NHP). Many species of African NHP are naturally infected with SIVs, but show no signs of disease. Although SIV is non-pathogenic in natural hosts, non-natural hosts, like Asian macaques, rapidly progress to immunodeficiency when infected with the virus. Baboons, an abundant African NHP, are not naturally infected with SIV, despite having overlapping habitats with natural hosts. Experimental infections have revealed that baboons are resistant to chronic SIV infection in vivo, but the mechanisms underlying natural resistance are unknown.
My project in the Giavedoni laboratory is aimed at identifying molecules in baboons that confer natural resistance to SIV. Our long term goal is to identify the human homologue and investigate why it fails to restrict HIV. These findings could contribute to the development of HIV preventatives and next-generation therapies. Currently, I am characterizing immune responses and viral replication kinetics during SIV infection in primary cells in vitro. I am also studying the impact of factors, including age and underlying retroviral infections, on the outcome of SIV infection.