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Microbiology and Immunology

The Division of Microbiology and Immunology at the Yerkes Research Center provides leadership, resources and training to advance molecular and biological approaches to understand, prevent and treat infectious diseases.

By using nonhuman primates and rodents to study the progression of disease and to test new approaches to prevent and treat these infections in the most relevant animal models, Yerkes scientists provide the basic biomedical research that eventually will result in novel strategies for treatment and prevention of infectious diseases in humans. Current research in the Division of Microbiology and Immunology focuses on vaccines and treatments for HIV and AIDS; pathogenesis of immunodeficiency virus infections in nonhuman primates; comparative AIDS research; and immunopathogenesis of hepatitis C virus. One of Yerkes’ foremost scientific goals is the development of an AIDS vaccine that will help end the global epidemic now affecting more than 42 million people. To do this, scientists in this division receive funding from the NIH through three large collaborative projects, including the Consortium for AIDS Vaccine Research in Nonhuman Primates, The Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI-ID) and the Integrated Preclinical/Clinical AIDS Vaccine Development program (IPCAVD), as well funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Another area of research focus is the development of new approaches to cure HIV infection (i.e., HIV eradication) that is catalyzed by the recently established NHP Cure Program.

Guido Silvestri, MD, an internationally recognized leader in AIDS research, serves as Division Chief. Core scientists for the division are Rama Rao Amara, PhD, Arash Grakoui, PhD, R. Paul Johnson, MD, and Mirko Paiardini, PhD.

Division Researchers