Nadia Roan investigates the transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus across the human genital tract. Using a variety of cell-based assays, she is uncovering how various mucosal components present in the female reproductive tract can facilitate or hinder infection by HIV. Her lab is also probing the features of T cells, HIV’s normal targets, that make these cells susceptible to productive versus latent HIV infection, and studying how HIV is able to “hide” in reservoir cells in individuals taking antiretroviral therapy. Her work has implications for stemming heterosexual HIV transmission, which accounts for most new HIV infections worldwide, and for developing cures against HIV/AIDS.
Areas of Expertise
Roan’s lab has demonstrated that cells lining the mucosal surface of the rectum and female genital tract secrete antiviral factors, whereas cells deeper in the mucosa potentiate HIV’s ability to infect T cells. These observations suggest that abrasions to the mucosal surface during intercourse allow HIV’s spread by facilitating its access to an environment favoring infection. The lab is now characterizing the molecular mechanisms by which genital cells prevent or potentiate HIV’s infectivity in the mucosa, which may lead to new protective strategies against HIV transmission.
Roan’s lab has also successfully applied CyTOF with a panel of 38 phenotypic markers to characterize the types of T cells targeted by HIV. Their work is uncovering the types of cells most and least susceptible to infection, identifying molecules whose expression is modified upon HIV infection, and finding markers of cells that preferentially undergo productive versus latent infection, which has important implications for the eventual eradication of latent virus in infected individuals.
Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes
Professor, Department of Urology, UC San Francisco
Nadia Roan is a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes and a professor of urology at UC San Francisco (UCSF).
She received her undergraduate training from UC Berkeley, and completed her PhD in the biological and biomedical sciences program at Harvard Medical School studying T cell responses to the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. She conducted her postdoctoral studies at Gladstone Institutes, where she studied the mechanisms by which host factors in human semen influence HIV infection. As a staff scientist at Gladstone, she further identified and characterized novel factors from semen that influence infection outcome. Since starting her own lab in the department of urology at UCSF, she has continued to study the relationship between semen factors and HIV transmission, and pursued research to more broadly understand the molecular basis by which HIV establishes infection in mucosal tissues.
The current focus of her lab is to use single-cell analytical approaches including CyTOF to characterize the molecular basis of cellular susceptibility to HIV infection and pathogenesis, and to identify signatures of infectious and reproductive diseases in humans.
How Did You Get Your Start in Science?
After I finished my college freshman year, I joined a lab where I got introduced to the whole concept of experimental research, and got hooked from there on!
Honors and Awards
2013 Hellman Award for Early-Career Faculty
2013 K99 Pathway to Independence Award
2012 Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology Award for Scientific Excellence
2012 Centers for AIDS Research Early Career Award of Excellence in Basic Research