Wendy Yeh, Ph.D.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Title: "HIV/SIV Mucosal Pathogenesis in the Male Genital Tract"
Description: Although the majority of the HIV-infected men worldwide acquired infection via the penile mucosa, little is known about the precise routes of viral entry into the male reproductive tract. Elucidating the initial events of viral entry during acute HIV-1 infection in the penile mucosa is critical for the design of intervention strategies to block HIV-1 mucosal transmission in men. To date, understanding of the early events associated with HIV-1 acquisition in the male genital compartment has been hampered by the lack of a physiologically-relevant animal penile transmission model. To address this issue, we have developed a technique for exposing SIV to the penile mucosa of Indian-origin rhesus monkeys that are relatively more permissive to mucosal infection on the basis of their TRIM5 genotypes. In this project, our objective is to utilize this novel SIV/rhesus monkey penile infection model to study early HIV-1 mucosal pathogenesis in the male genital tract. These studies will provide a rational basis for developing intervention strategies to block HIV-1 acquisition in men.
Mentors: My mentors are Dr. Norman Letvin and Dr. Raphael Dolin at Harvard Medical School. I have been working with Dr. Letvin over the last several years to elucidate HIV immunopathogenesis using SIV-infected rhesus monkeys. With additional mentorship from Dr. Dolin, I hope to apply the insights we have gained from the nonhuman primate model to the development of an effective HIV-1 vaccine.