Nilu Goonetilleke, PhD

Nilu Goonetilleke, PhD

Assistant Professor
120 Mason Farm Road
GMB Level 2 RM2017


Goonetilleke Lab (G Lab) – T cell immunology, HIV-1 pathogenesis

Our research focuses on understanding the response of T cells to infections, particularly HIV-1. The CD8 T cell response to HIV-1 is robust and exerts ongoing immune pressure on the virus throughout infection. However, the contribution of CD8 T cells to control of HIV-1 viremia differs greatly between individuals. Studies in our lab are aimed at gaining understanding of the variable efficacy of CD8 T cells in natural infection. Ultimately, we hope to translate our results into the design and testing of T cell vaccines for either HIV-1 prevention or cure.

Current projects:

  • Studies of acute HIV-1 infection focusing on better understanding CD8 T cell immunodominance and T cell mediated control of viremia.
  • CD8 T cells and HIV-1 Cure


Selected publications:



Campion S, Brodie TM , Fischer W, Korber BT, RossettiA , Goonetilleke N, McMichael AJ, Sallusto F

Proteome wide analysis of HIV specific naïve and memory CD4+ T cells in unexposed blood donors

J Exp Med



Hayward AC, Fragaszy E, Bermingham A, Wang L, Copas A, Edmunds J, Ferguson N, Goonetilleke N, Harvey G, Kovar J, Lim M, Millett ERC, Pebody R, Nguyen-Van-Tam JS, McMichael A, Nazareth I, Watson JM, Johnson AM, Zambon M and the Flu Watch Group

Comparative burden and severity of seasonal and pandemic influenza: Results of the Flu Watch study – England 2006-2011Lancet

Respir Med



Liu MK, Hawkins N, Ritchie A, Ganusov VV, Whale V, Brackenridge S, Li H, Pavlicek JW, Cai F, Rose-Abrahams M, Treurnicht F, Hraber P, Riou C, Gray C, Ferrari G, Tanner R, Ping L, Anderson JA, Swanstrom R , CHAVI Core B, Cohen M, Karim SS, Haynes B , Borrow P, Perelson AS, Shaw GM,. Hahn BH, Williamson C, Korber BT, Gao F, Self S, McMichael AJ, Goonetilleke N.

T cell immunodominance and epitope entropy determine HIV-1 escape.

J of Clinical




Goonetilleke N, McMichael AJ

Antigen processing takes a new direction



Goonetilleke N, McMichael AJ

HIV-1 vaccines: let's get physical



Song H, Pavlicek JW, Cai F, Bhattacharya T, Li H, Iyer SS, Bar KJ, Decker JM , Goonetilleke N, Liu MK, Berg A, Hora B, Drinker M, Eudailey J, Pickeral J,Moody MA, Ferrari G, McMichael A,Perelson AS, Shaw GM, Hahn B, Haynes BF, Gao F.

Impact of immune escape mutations on HIV-1 fitness in the context of the cognate transmitted/founder genome




Riou C, Ganusov VV, Campion S, Mlotshwa M, Liu MK, Whale V, Goonetilleke N, Borrow P, Ferrari G, Betts MR, Haynes BF, McMichael AJ, Gray CM.

Distinct Kinetics of Gag-Specific CD4+ and CD8+ T Cell Responses during Acute HIV-1 Infection.




Ganusov S, Goonetilleke N, Liu M, Ferrari G, Shaw G, McMichael A, Borrow P, Korber B, Perelson A

Fitness costs and diversity of CTL response determine the rate of CTL escape during the acute and chronic phases of HIV-1 infection

J Virol



Ferrari G, Korber B, Goonetilleke N, Liu M, Turnbull EL, Salazar-Gonzalez J, Hawkins N, Self S, Watson S, Betts M, Gay C, McGhee K, Pellegrino P, Williams I, Tomaras G, Haynes B, Gray C, Borrow P, Roederer M, McMichael A, Weinhold K.

Relationship between functional profile of HIV01 specific CD8 T cels and epitope variability with the selection of escape mutants in acute HIV-1 infection

PLoS Pathog.



Ritchie A, Campion S, Kopycinski J, Moore S, Brackenridge S, Liu MK, Kuldanek K, Legg K, Wang M, Pandya K, Delwart E, Fidler S, Moodie Z, McMichael A, Goonetilleke N.

Differences in HIV-1 specific T cell responses between HIV-exposed and unexposed HIV-1 seronegative individuals

J Virol



Campion S, Cohen MS, McMichael AJ, Galvin S and Goonetilleke N

Improved detection of latent Mtb infection in HIV-1 seropositive individuals using cultured cellular assays

Eur J Immunol



McMichael AJ, Borrow P, Tomaras GD, Goonetilleke N, Haynes BF.

The immune response during acute HIV-1 infection: clues for vaccine development.

Nat Rev





Goonetilleke N, Liu MK, Salazar-Gonzalez JF, Ferrari G, Giorgi E, Ganusov VV, Keele BF, Learn GH, Turnbull EL, Salazar MG, Weinhold KJ, Moore S; CHAVI Clinical Core B, Letvin N, Haynes BF, Cohen MS, Hraber P, Bhattacharya T, Borrow P, Perelson AS, Hahn BH, Shaw GM, Korber BT, McMichael AJ.

The first T cell response to transmitted/founder virus contributes to the control of acute viremia in HIV-1 infection.

J Exp Med.



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