Lusso Research Group

The Viral Pathogenesis Section (VPS) is focused on the study of HIV/AIDS pathogenesis and the development of innovative strategies for therapy and vaccine. A primary area of interest in recent years has been the development of a novel HIV-1 vaccine platform based on mRNA. Another research topic, directly related to vaccine design, is the elucidation of the structure-function relationships within the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins, which can identify conserved functional regions and elucidate the structural basis of immune evasion, a major obstacle to vaccine development. This knowledge has also been instrumental to the VPS efforts to rationally engineer HIV-neutralizing antibodies with improved potency and breadth. Other research areas include the study of endogenous immune modulators that regulate HIV-1 transmission, replication, and pathogenesis, including CCR5-binding antiviral chemokines, interleukin-7 and integrin α4β7. The research group uses a comprehensive research approach that combines classic immunology and virology with state-of-the-art post-genomic technologies and pre-clinical in vivo studies in nonhuman primates. 

Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D.

Chief, Viral Pathogenesis Section

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Education:

PH.D., Ministry of Scientific and Technologic Research, Rome, Italy
M.D., University of Turin, Turin, Italy

Dr. Lusso received his M.D., summa cum laude, from the University of Turin and his Ph.D. from the Ministry of Scientific and Technologic Research, Rome, Italy. He is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and in infectious diseases. He came to NIH for the first time in 1986 to work in the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology under Dr. Robert C. Gallo at the National Cancer Institute. He
Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D.

Qingbo Liu, Ph.D.

Research Fellow

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Languages Spoken: Mandarin, Chinese

Qingbo Liu’s research is focused on the structural and functional study of the HIV-1 envelope trimer. He utilized structure-based rational design to optimize HIV neutralizing antibodies and antigens for HIV treatment and prevention. He is also conducting pre-clinical studies evaluating the antiviral molecules in animal models.

Portrait of Qingbo Liu, Ph.D.

Hana Schmeisser, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

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Languages Spoken: Slovakian

The major focus of Dr. Schmeisser’s research is to study: The immunomodulatory effects of IL-7 and its role in antiviral defenses; The receptors and signaling pathways involved in IL-7-mediated induction and production of chemokines and cytokines; The pro-inflammatory effects of type-I IFN and TNF during the chronic phase of HIV-infection; The development of neutralizing antibodies against type-I
Portrait of Hana Schmeisser, Ph.D.

Mamta Singh, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

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Languages Spoken: Hindi

During her Ph.D. studies, Dr. Singh evaluated biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles as a vaccine delivery platform for improving the immunogenicity of polysaccharide antigens. Presently, her research work aims to elucidate the mechanisms of action of mRNA vaccines against HIV-1 that produce virus-like particles (VLPs) and to develop slow-release platforms for such vaccines.

Portrait of Mamta Singh, Ph.D.

Peng Zhang, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

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Languages Spoken: Mandarin, Chinese

Peng Zhang’s research Interests include the structure-based design and development of novel HIV-1 vaccine immunogens; the evaluation of investigational vaccines for immunogenicity and efficacy; the isolation and characterization of HIV-neutralizing antibodies; the use of pre-clinical models to test experimental vaccines and move them toward clinical evaluation.

Portrait of Peng Zhang, Ph.D.
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