Virology Core Research

Laboratory and Research Support

  1. The Virology Core provides laboratory support for multiple DAIDS network studies with specimen processing, shipping and virologic testing. The lab’s outstanding performance in all participating external quality assurance programs (VQA, IQA, EQC, CAPS) and study support has resulted in waivers of DAIDS-sponsored monitoring visits 2 years in a row. The laboratory also contributed to the successful joint-network application, resulting in the 5-year Bay Area Clinical Trials Unit award (Drs. Diane Havlir and Susan Buchbinder, Co-PIs). Through this grant, the Virology Core will continue to provide laboratory support and consultation to the AACTG, HVTN, HPTN and MTN trials.
  2. Over the last year working together with Dr. Wong’s research laboratory, the Virology Core now offers on a fee-for-service basis numerous ultrasensitive assays for single copy detection of HIV RNA and DNA in cellular and solid tissues to support studies on the viral reservoir, treatment and curative strategies. In addition, the laboratory creates and shares highly characterized HIV quantitation standards and detailed protocols for real-time PCR assays to CFAR investigators who have sufficient technical expertise to perform the assays independently. These assays are used widely among CFAR investigators, including Early Stage Investigators. 

Translational Research

  1. CFAR Initiative: Research support in resource-limited international settings, especially East Africa. The Virology Core is a major contributor to the SEARCH study (Sustainable East Africa Research in Community Health), Co-PI Diane Havlir and Moses Kamya, a multi-year study in Uganda and Kenya investigating health, economic and social outcomes of initiating ART upon HIV diagnosis with streamlined delivery compared to CD4-driven initiation. The Core directors were instrumental in developing novel methods for field collection of blood for RNA testing in rural settings. Core director Liegler is the protocol Virologist, and the Core provides viral load and drug resistance testing. The Core also provides mentoring to the Kenyan and Ugandan staff in laboratory QA/QC programs, laboratory infrastructure, sample management and archiving tools. The collective experience, mentoring and synergy have allowed rapid implementation of systems and procedures to collect and test tens of thousands of specimens from rural settings in the study’s first year. In a SEARCH-corollary study, the Virology Core was instrumental in the recently published work of Dr. Vivek Jain, an Early Career Investigator (JAIDS, 2014).
  2. CFAR Initiative: HIV eradication. The Virology Core has active collaborations focusing on characterizing the HIV reservoir and developing curative strategies through the DARE and CARE Martin Delaney collaboratories and single investigator driven projects. 
  3. CFAR Initiative: HIV-1 prevention, Drug resistance: The Virology Core, in collaboration with Gilead Sciences, is providing genotypic and minor variant drug resistance testing for seroconverters in 5 PrEP Demonstration projects throughout the United States to meet the U.S. FDA issued REMS reporting requirement for use of Truvada as PrEP.