David O’Connor’s email
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ALIGNED RESEARCH FOCUS
Interplay of genetics and immunity to infectious diseases.
ORGAN SYSTEM/DISEASE FOCUS
IRNA viruses: HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, Zika.
Globally, there are more than 30 million individuals living with HIV/AIDS, a number that is growing by approximately 3 million each year. The overarching goal of my laboratory is to contribute meaningfully to the global response to HIV. Though HIV is ultimately a preventable disease, the sheer number of new HIV infections demonstrates that a prophylactic vaccine is desperately needed to augment existing prevention programs. Most vaccine concepts are prototyped in macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Therefore, our laboratory studies both SIV-infected macaques and HIV-infected people. We seek to understand how genetics affects immunity to these viruses, as well as how these viruses evolve in response to host immunity. We have partnered with researchers studying RNA viruses such as COVID-19, Zika, dengue, influenza and simian hemorrhagic fever virus to use techniques developed to study HIV/SIV to improve our understanding of genetics, immunity and pathogenesis.