My research is focused on defining the role of HIV-induced cellular microRNAs (miRNAs) during infection and progression to AIDS. We have found a set of miRNAs that are triggered upon infection with the virus, and we are currently defining how these miRNAs impact the function and fitness of T cells in infected hosts.
Finally, our group is interested in understanding why and how some privileged individuals, called elite controllers, can exert potent resistance against HIV infection in the absence of treatment. In collaboration with scientist at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute, we are using novel silica nanodevices coupled with proteomic analyses to discover novel plasma biomarkers that could reflect the multifactorial processes that trigger potent HIV suppression in elite individuals. Dissecting these unique molecular signatures may enable us to design and develop improved clinical strategies for enhancing host resistance against HIV
I am interested in how T-bet-controlled Th1 and RORgT-controlled Th17 cells influence early HIV-1 infection. To understand the roles of these CD4 subsets, we combine cellular and genetic approaches that modulate the immune system with HIV-1 infection in “humanized” mice. These studies are being performed in collaboration with investigators at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard Cambridge, Massachusetts.