Skip to main content

Xavier Bonner under the direction of Dr. Ronald Swanstrom successfully defended his dissertation “Determining Genotypic and Phenotypic Factors Influencing Macrophage Tropism in the HIV-1 Envelope Protein” on March 15, 2024, and received his PhD!

Xavier Bonner 2023In 2018 Xavier graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta Georgia with a Bachelor’s of Science in Physics and a minor in Computer Science and Mathematics. During his time as an undergraduate student, his academic research pertained to fabrication of more efficient electrical components that go inside of computing systems.  His research interest evolved however into characterizing and simulating macromolecular protein-protein binding interactions which led him to complete an undergraduate summer research experience here at UNC Chapel Hill in the lab of Dr. Brian Kuhlman.  Xavier’s work on protein-protein interactions during this experience ultimately led him to apply and enroll in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP). 

After quickly completely his first year of study under the Biophysics track, Xavier chose to join the lab of Dr. Ronald I. Swanstrom who studies HIV-1 because he became curious how viruses were able to utilize protein-protein interactions to establish infection in host cells.  His graduate studies thesis project aimed to identify both genotypic and phenotypic signatures of M-tropism, which is an entry phenotype of HIV.  In that, he used both computational methods and experimental techniques to identify how a HIV protein responsible for binding to host cells evolved over time.  One technique that revolutionized his biochemical work was surface plasmon resonance which he used to measure how tightly a HIV protein bound to its binding partner CD4. 

Xavier has accepted a Strategy Consultant role for a consulting company here in the research triangle area that focuses on developing business strategies for pharmaceutical companies that design medication. He aims to use this next chapter in his life to better understand the medication market as he plans to one day develop his own research lab focused on inventing therapies that address neurodegenerative diseases. 

He plans to walk in the UNC Sping Commencement on May 11, 2024. Congrats Dr. Bonner!