The study of HIV has yielded both effective antiretroviral medications, and a wealth of fundamental biological insights. Our lab is striving to build upon both aspects of this legacy, through the study of HIV persistence on antiretroviral therapy. We approach this by structuring our lab into the following areas of current focus, which are intended to reinforce each other. Each area is represented by a subgroup of lab members, led by a rotating “Czar,” which meets biweekly to brainstorm, troubleshoot, and identify areas for synergy.
Our mission is to understand the pathogenic mechanisms underlying complications impacting brain health and co-infections in HIV particularly among those receiving virally-suppressive antiretroviral therapy across a spectrum of ages. Using multiple immunological, virological, and molecular epigenetic and genetic modalities, we aim to exploit this knowledge in developing novel approaches and effective therapeutics to improve quality of life outcomes. We are actively engaged in pre-clinical and clinical studies nationally and internationally to achieve these goals.
The Nixon lab, which includes Assistant Research Professors Matthew Bendall, Robert Furler, and Miguel de Mulder Rougvie, is interested in understanding the interaction between retroviruses and their host, including mechanisms that human host cells employ to control HIV-1 replication, and to use this knowledge towards HIV-1 cure studies. The lab is largely funded by a grant from the NIH, one of the Martin Delaney Collaboratories for the Cure of HIV. Our Collaboratory is called “Believe,” and co-led by Brad Jones and Douglas Nixon. Ongoing studies test HIV-1-specific T-cells as biosensors to measure latency reversal, and determine which combinations of LRAs are most effective in exposing latent reservoirs to recognition and elimination by cytotoxic T-cells. Other projects test the ability of innate cells to eliminate HIV infected cells, how HIV-1 induced transcription of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) might affect HIV-1 latency, immunometabolism and HIV latency, and how host genetics might affect HIV-1 acquisition. Finally, we are interested in how the human immune, human endogenous retroviruses, and nervous systems interact in viral infections, and in psychiatric diseases. Fellows have the opportunity to design, conduct, and analyze basic research science studies, and to develop collaborative projects in basic science with collaborators in Mexico and Brazil.