Prostratin Moves Forward: New Scientist Joins ARA’s Cure Research Team

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June 13 2013

Stefanie Homann

After an extensive search that attracted candidates from around the world, AIDS Research Alliance has hired Stefanie Homann, Ph.D. to lead its research team and advance its HIV cure research. Dr. Homann joins ARA from the laboratory of Dr. John Guatelli, M.D., Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Diego. In Guatelli’s lab, Dr. Homann conducted postdoctoral research on HIV infection – performing both ex vivo and in vitro experiments on HIV, with specific interest on viral proteins Nef and Vpu.

Before moving to the United States, Dr. Homann worked in the laboratory of Professor Oliver T. Fackler, Ph.D., Department of Infectious Diseases and Virology at the University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. During that time, her research resulted in six published papers. She was the first author on a paper published in the peer reviewed journal Retrovirology about the effects of Nef on HIV-1 replication in ex vivo tonsil cultures; the co-author of a paper published in the Journal of General Virology on targeting and trafficking of Nef; and a researcher on the team which published a paper in Cell Host & Microbe on the antiviral activity of CD317, a restriction factor that blocks the release of HIV type 1 from the cell surface.

“I became fascinated with how viruses survive during my early studies in Germany,” said Dr. Homann. “I then wanted to better understand how viruses circumvent the immune system. I began my research with influenza and the Lassa virus. During my Ph.D. studies, I transitioned to studying HIV.”

At AIDS Research Alliance, Dr. Homann will lead our research program targeting the HIV reservoirs. Her first assignment will be to oversee several in vitro experiments requested by the FDA in conjunction with our preparation for an investigational new drug [IND] application. Dr. Homann will also collaborate with HIV researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, to explore other approaches to HIV reservoirs.

“Having conducted basic research on HIV for the past eight years, focusing on how the virus evades the immune system, I look forward to applying this experience to my role at AIDS Research Alliance,” explained Dr. Homann. “I am eager to get started on prostratin, a naturally occurring plant extract that can be used to target HIV reservoirs.”

“We are thrilled that Dr. Homann has joined our team and that we can move forward with prostratin,” said Dr. Stephen Brown, M.D., ARA’s medical director.

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