-What is HIV?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is a virus from a group of retroviruses called lentiviruses. Retroviruses are so-called as they are able to reverse the central dogma of genetics, converting their genomic RNA to DNA using reverse transcriptase. Lenti- “slow” -viruses are so-called as there is typically a long time between infection and display of symptoms.
HIV is the causative agent of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which results from loss of immune cells (the cells that HIV infects), which makes the infected individuals vulnerable to infections and certain cancers.
-Where did HIV come from?
Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in West Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV) most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world. (AIDS Institute)
-What’s your lab like?
I am currently hosted in Professor Lever’s lab in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge. We are in the main building of a huge teaching hospital in Cambridge called Addenbrooke’s, which is based in the middle of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. This means we’re surrounded by lots of buildings full of people doing amazing science. Our lab has a molecular biology laboratory plus a tissue culture lab and containment level 2 and 3 facilities where we work with inactivated or live HIV. We are also able to work in nearby facilities such as to use microscopes and flow cytometry.
-What’s it like to work in Cambridge?
Cambridge is a great place to work as a scientist. It’s a beautiful city with an amazing scientific history full of people enthusiastic about science. The University itself has outstanding teaching and research and there are many opportunities for collaboration with other scientists and with industry.
-Can I come and work in your lab?
We are not currently looking for anyone to come and work in the lab but if you are welcome to come and visit. Get in touch.
-What do you do when you’re not in the lab?
Not all my job is based in the lab. I might be having meetings with my colleagues or attending seminars. I could be in town teaching or attending meetings in my College, Downing. I am also involved in various other academic-related activities (Editorial Board, admissions interviews – see CV) which all keep me busy and enjoying my job!
When I’m not working I mainly spend my time running around after my two small children, Alice and Felix.
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