Genetics Of The Host-Pathogen Interface

We develop and apply CRISPR-based methods to probe the genetic interactions between pathogens such as HIV and host immune cells, particularly T cells. We are also expanding our CRISPR toolkit to move the technology into other immune cell types infected by distinct pathogens.

A variety of research projects in the lab focus on the application of genomic technology to host-pathogen interactions, with the broad goal of understanding pathogenesis and advancing therapies. Projects include the development of a systematic approach to identify gene targets that render human T cells resistant to HIV infection and extension of these efforts to multiple stages of the HIV lifecycle including latency. We have also expanded CRISPR applications to primary human myeloid cells to extend this approach to a broader range of pathogens.

More recently, we saw an urgent need for collaborative efforts related to the response to COVID-19. We recently published the results of a streamlined test performance assessment of SARS-CoV-2 antibody assays, comparing commercially available rapid serology tests and ELISA immunoassays and providing data to guide use of COVID-19 tests in the biomedical community. We are also actively involved in other collaborative projects around understanding the SARS-CoV-2 proteome and immune reactions to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Selected Publications

A functional map of HIV-host interactions in primary human T cells
Nature Communications, 2022
Evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 serology assays reveals a range of test performance
Nature Biotechnology, 2020
CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering of primary CD4 + T cells for the interrogation of HIV-host factor interactions
Nature Protocols, 2018
A Cas9 Ribonucleoprotein Platform for Functional Genetic Studies of HIV-Host Interactions in Primary Human T Cells
Cell Reports, 2016


Media highlights of Alex and the lab’s research.
CRISPR and HIV: New technique in human blood unveils potential paths toward cure
Gladstone Scientist Uses YouTube to Fight COVID-19 Misinformation in India
CRISPR identifies genes that might be targeted to hobble HIV infection
Antibody Test, Seen as Key to Reopening Country, Does Not Yet Deliver
Stellar Science Solving Cancer and COVID-19
Coronavirus Antibody Tests: Can You Trust the Results?