Leor Weinberger’s lab studies fundamental processes of viral biology to develop innovative therapies against HIV. The lab discovered a viral program that allows HIV to grow in some cells and remain dormant in others, and a new class of molecules that manipulate this program in infected individuals. The group developed and pioneered the concept of Therapeutic Interfering Particles (TIPs), single-administration, resistance-proof therapeutics that could treat HIV in resource-limited settings, such as sub-Saharan Africa and in injection drug users. The group also develops novel therapies for herpes simplex and cytomegalovirus, the leading cause of birth defects and transplant failures.

Disease Areas

Cytomegalovirus
Herpesvirus
HIV/AIDS

Areas of Expertise

Biophysics
CRISPR
Gene regulation
Mathematical Biology
Microscopy
Stochastic Noise
TIPs
Virology
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Lab Focus

Understanding the gene “circuits” that govern viral lifecycles.
Engineering first-in-class single-administration and resistance-proof antiviral therapies.
Developing tools to track viral fate circuitry and infection dynamics.

Research Impact

Weinberger and his team are known for discovering HIV’s latency “circuit”. HIV latency is a viral dormant state and the chief barrier to an HIV cure. Weinberger’s lab characterized the molecular mechanisms regulating HIV stochastic fluctuations (“noise”) and overturned dogma to show that HIV evolved circuitry to control latency by manipulating noise. These studies led to the lab’s discovery of a new class of molecules (noise enhancers), and of gene circuits in herpesviruses that are being exploited as a new class of antiviral targets.

The lab couples computational and experimental approaches, including quantitative, single-cell and single-molecule microscopy and mathematical modeling. An exciting illustration is the team’s recent effort to engineer resistance-proof, single-administration therapies for HIV. These therapies would benefit the highest-risk populations who most need therapy, and are aimed specifically at resource-poor settings, such as sub-Saharan Africa or at people who inject drugs.

 

Professional Titles

Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes

Director, Center for Cell Circuitry, Gladstone Institutes

William and Ute Bowes Distinguished Professor

Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biophysics, UC San Francisco

Bio

Leor S. Weinberger, PhD, is the director of the Center for Cell Circuitry and a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes. He is also the William and Ute Bowes Distinguished Professor, as well as a professor of chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics, at UC San Francisco.

Weinberger earned a BS in biology and physics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a PhD in biophysics from UC Berkeley, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellow. He received postdoctoral training at Princeton University as a Lewis Thomas Fellow, working with Thomas Shenk and David Botstein. Before joining Gladstone, Weinberger was an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC San Diego.

Weinberger has been named an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow and won several awards, including the W.M. Keck Foundation Research Excellence Award, the California HIV/AIDS Young Investigator Innovative Development Award, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenges Award. He is also the only individual ever to win the NIH Director’s Pioneer, Avant-Garde, and New Innovator awards. Weinberger is a member of numerous scientific societies and serves on the Innovation Review Panel for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

How Did You Get Your Start in Science?

“I had several extremely dedicated undergraduate mentors who encouraged me to combine my math and physics interests with biology and gave me a place in their labs.”

Leor Weinberger, PhD

Honors and Awards

2019 Keynote Speaker, Computational and Genomic Biology Retreat, UC Berkeley

2018 The Windsor Cutting Memorial Lectureship, Stanford University

2017 The Svedberg Lecture, Uppsala University and Karolinska Institut, Sweden

2017 Keynote Speaker, Whitehead Fellows Seminar Forum, Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, MA

2016 Butler Seminar, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University

2016 J.W. Kieckhefer Distinguished Speaker, MIT

2016 Blavatnik Scholar

2015 Elected Fellow, American Institute of Medical and Biomedical Engineers

2013 Pioneer Award, National Institutes of Health

2011 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow

2009 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

2009 W.M. Keck Foundation Research Excellence Award

2009 Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Explorations Award

2009 California HIV/AIDS Young Investigator Innovative Development Award

2008 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

2008 NIH K25 Career Development Award

2006 External Thesis Reviewer, Department of Applied Maths, Witz University, South Africa

2006 Princeton University Early Promotion (Research Associate to Research Staff)

2006 Best Postdoctoral Research Award, Department of Biology, Princeton University

2006 Lewis Thomas Fellowship, Princeton University

2003 Berkeley Microscopy Award, UC Berkeley

1999 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellowship

1999 Chancellor’s Fellowship, UC Berkeley

1999 Eugene Cota Robles Fellowship, UC Berkeley

1998 DOE (URS) Research Scholarship, Los Alamos National Lab

1998 Kupcinet International Science Research Scholarship, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel

1997 HHMI Undergraduate Research Fellowship, 2nd award

1997 NSF (REU) Research Scholarship, UC San Diego

1996 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Scholar, University of Maryland

1996 Maryland Distinguished Scholar

1996 University Honors Research Grant, University of Maryland

1996 John Prost Scholarly Writing Award, University of Maryland, Honors Program

1993 FAES Fellow, National Institutes of Health

Publications

More Publications

Contact

Leor Weinberger

415.734.4946

Sarah Larkin
Administrative Assistant II
415.734.4857


Lab Members

Sonali Chaturvedi, PhD
Scientist
Xinyue Chen, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Ravi Desai
Graduate Student
Kelvin Du
Research Associate I
Josh Glazier
Research Associate II
Maike Hansen, PhD
Visiting Scientist
Erin Isaza
Graduate Student
Arjun Kumar
Research Associate I
Dan Lewis, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Benjamin Martin
Visiting Researcher
Mike Pablo, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Sushil Sobti
Graduate Student
Elizabeth Tanner, PhD
Bioinformatics Fellow
Gus Vasen, PhD
Postdoctoral Scholar
Marie Wolf, PhD
Staff Research Scientist I