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

Chief, Viral Pathogenesis Section

Major Areas of Research

  • Viral receptors and coreceptors
  • Structure-function relationships in the HIV-1 envelope
  • Molecular basis of HIV-1 immune evasion
  • Novel approaches to the development of HIV-1 vaccines
  • Role of chemokines and other endogenous factors in HIV-1 disease

Program Description

Despite the extraordinary advances in HIV research over the past 30 years, the AIDS pandemic remains one of the greatest scientific challenges in the world. The main focus of the Viral Pathogenesis Section (VPS) is to study the pathogenesis of HIV-1/AIDS and to use this knowledge to devise innovative treatment and vaccine strategies. A primary area of interest is the elucidation of the structure-function relationships within the HIV-1 envelope, with the aim of identifying conserved functional regions and elucidating the structural basis of immune evasion, one of the main obstacles to vaccine development. This knowledge guides the VPS efforts to rationally engineer new vaccine immunogens capable of eliciting the production of broadly neutralizing antibodies.

Other research topics include the study of endogenous immune modulators that regulate HIV-1 transmission, replication, and pathogenesis, including antiviral chemokines, interleukin-7, and integrin α4β7. The VPS 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.



Dr. Lusso received his M.D., magna 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 returned to Italy in 1994, where he created the Laboratory of Human Virology at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan and became associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Cagliari. In 2006, he again joined NIH, where he became chief of the Viral Pathogenesis Section in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. He is an executive editor of Current HIV Research and a member of the editorial board of several other journals. He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

Research Group

Photo of lab group for Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D.

Top row (left to right):  Robert (Bob) Jackson, B.Sc. (Biologist), Yuge (Bill) Wang, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow), Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D. (Chief), Peng Zhang, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Fellow), Qingbo Liu, Ph.D., (Postdoctoral Fellow), Yin Lin, Ph.D. (Biologist). 

Bottom row (left to right):  Ferzan Uddin, B.Sc. (Post-baccalaureate), Mit Patel, B.Sc. (Post-baccalaureate), Tsion Andine, B.Sc. (Post-baccalaureate), Huiyi Miao, M.Sc. (Biologist), Hana Schmeisser, Ph.D. (Staff Scientist)

Credit: NIAID

Selected Publications

Guzzo C, Ichikawa D, Park C, Phillips D, Liu Q, Zhang P, Kwon A, Miao H, Lu J, Rehm C, Arthos J, Cicala C, Cohen MS, Fauci AS, Kehrl JH, Lusso P. Virion incorporation of integrin α4β7 facilitates HIV-1 infection and intestinal homing. Sci Immunol. 2017 May 12;2(11).

Liu Q, Acharya P, Dolan MA, Zhang P, Guzzo C, Lu J, Kwon A, Gururani D, Miao H, Bylund T, Chuang GY, Druz A, Zhou T, Rice WJ, Wigge C, Carragher B, Potter CS, Kwong PD, Lusso P. Quaternary contact in the initial interaction of CD4 with the HIV-1 envelope trimer. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2017 Apr;24(4):370-378.

Cimbro R, Gallant TR, Dolan MA, Guzzo C, Zhang P, Lin Y, Miao H, Van Ryk D, Arthos J, Gorshkova I, Brown PH, Hurt DE, Lusso P. Tyrosine sulfation in the second variable loop (V2) of HIV-1 gp120 stabilizes V2-V3 interaction and modulates neutralization sensitivity(link is external)Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Feb 25;111(8):3152-7.

Guzzo C, Fox J, Lin Y, Miao H, Cimbro R, Volkman BF, Fauci AS, Lusso P. The CD8-derived chemokine XCL1/lymphotactin is a conformation-dependent, broad-spectrum inhibitor of HIV-1(link is external)PLoS Pathog. 2013 Dec;9(12):e1003852.

Vassena L, Miao H, Cimbro R, Malnati MS, Cassina G, Proschan MA, Hirsch VM, Lafont BA, Morre M, Fauci AS, Lusso P. Treatment with IL-7 prevents the decline of circulating CD4+ T cells during the acute phase of SIV infection in rhesus macaques.(link is external) PLoS Pathog. 2012 Apr;8(4):e1002636.

Cocchi F, DeVico AL, Garzino-Demo A, Arya SK, Gallo RC, Lusso P. Identification of RANTES, MIP-1 alpha, and MIP-1 beta as the major HIV-suppressive factors produced by CD8+ T cells.(link is external) Science. 1995 Dec 15;270(5243):1811-5.

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Content last reviewed on August 24, 2017