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Assistant Professor

Areas of Interest

HIV, immunology, systems biology

About

The goal of my lab’s research is to develop methods for studying and eliminating the latent HIV reservoir from infected patients. Latently infected cells are resistant to current HIV therapies and can persist in infected patients for decades. These cells thus represent the primary barrier to a “cure” for HIV, but the mechanisms that allow them to escape immune clearance, and persist, are still unclear. As part of my research effort, I have focused on applying cutting edge single cell and systems biology methods to the study of latency models. In particular, methods that permit characterization of rare cell subpopulations have considerable potential to advance our understanding of HIV latency. Recently, my lab has discovered that latency is associated with expression of a specific set of host cell genes – a latency “signature” (Bradley et al., 2018). This finding indicates that latency is regulated by a distinct host cell program that could be targeted therapeutically. Ongoing work funded by my current R01 award includes defining the molecular details of this program and characterizing chromatin-based events that correlate with latency at the single cell level. Subsequent experiments in my lab using ATACseq and CRISPR/Cas9 targeting of HIV infected cells have identified several novel regulators of HIV transcription (Jefferys et al 2021). In particular, we have identified the chromatin insulator protein CTCF as a key molecule for the maintenance of transcriptional latency, and we are investigating the mechanisms of CTCF-mediate transcriptional repression.

Education and Training

  • Undergraduate University of Auckland
  • MSc University of Auckland
  • PhD Princeton University