How would you summarize what you currently do at NIAID?
I am currently senior investigator and chief of the HIV Immunovirology Section in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation at NIAID. I direct and work with a small, but highly productive group of researchers and clinicians who 1) study the role of viral reservoirs in the pathogenesis of HIV disease; 2) examine host and viral factors that contribute to the persistence of HIV reservoirs; and 3) explore the feasibility of developing therapeutic strategies aimed at achieving durable virologic control in infected individuals in the absence of antiretroviral therapy.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
My day starts early, typically around 6 a.m. I try to get data analyzed, do some paperwork, and plan the day before others arrive. Then, I meet with my group every morning at 8:30 a.m. to discuss ongoing research projects, lab-related issues, and patient line-up for the day. I then participate in clinical meetings, a few zoom meetings with intramural and extramural collaborators, write manuscripts, do some lab work, then head home before 6 p.m.
How long have you been at NIAID and what was your career path to arrive here?
I came to NIH in February of 1997 right after receiving my Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. My very first position at NIH was a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Anthony Fauci’s lab. Over the past two decades, I have risen through the ranks, from postdoctoral fellow to staff scientist, associate scientist, tenure-track investigator and finally to a fully tenured senior investigator in 2020.
How would you describe the culture at NIAID?
It is inspiring to work every day with dedicated nurses, physicians’ assistants, clinicians, researchers, and study participants/volunteers. NIAID offers a high collaborative environment that enables us to focus on a common mission–conducting transformative medicine and biomedical research to improve human health.
Are there any special or unique projects that you are working on?
We have two clinical trials that are about to start. One involves the administration of HIV-specific, long-acting broadly neutralizing antibodies to evaluate how these antibodies may facilitate the clearance of infected cells and enhance antiviral host immunity in people living with HIV. The other trial involves the use of anti-CD4 antibody called UB-421 to treat HIV-infected patients who carry multidrug-resistant virus.
What do you like about working at NIAID?
One of the main reasons why I came to NIAID to pursue my career was to conduct clinical/translational research to help people living with HIV. The NIH Clinical Center and NIAID HIV Outpatient Clinic offer exceptional resources and opportunities for conducting bench-to-bedside research. For this reason, I believe NIAID is one of the best places to pursue biomedical research in the field of HIV and other infectious diseases.
What are your future career goals?
I plan to continue my work and retire from the current position when the time comes.
Do you have any advice to offer others who might be considering working at NIAID?
I highly recommend trainees and investigators who are interested in pursuing a career in biomedical research to consider working at NIAID. They are highly likely to find a world expert in their area of interest who will be happy to collaborate and share expertise.