Profiles & Work of Early Stage Investigators

Mohammed Asmal, M.D. PhD
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Title: "Novel Transmitted Env SHIV for Investigating Mucosal Transmission in Rhesus"

Description: In order for an HIV vaccine to provide sterilizing immunity from mucosally acquired infection, the vaccine will need to target HIV-1 envelope. To test potential envelope-targeted vaccines in nonhuman primates, chimeric SIV-HIV viruses have been developed that combine HIV envelope with other viral genes from SIV. However, shortcomings in existing SHIVs have limited their utility in investigating vaccine protection from mucosal infection. In this ECI award-funded research, we are developing novel SHIVs that were generated using HIV envelopes isolated directly from acutely infected individuals. We will be evaluating these SHIVs for their ability to establish infection in rhesus macaques via mucosal inoculation and to cause an AIDS-like pathogenesis. We hope this novel SHIV will be a useful tool in evaluation future HIV vaccine candidates.

Mentors: My mentors are Dr. Norman Letvin, Chief, Division of Viral Pathogenesis, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; and Dr. Raphael Dolin, Dean for Academic and Clinical Programs and Maxwell Finland Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. I approached Drs. Letvin and Dolin for their mentorship because of their extensive experience in studying retroviral pathogenesis in nonhuman primates and applying this information to the development of an HIV vaccine.

Other ESI Scholars: