Cristian Apetrei, MD, PhD

Cristian Apetrei, MD, PhD


9044 Biomedical Science Tower 3
3501 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Ph: 412-624-3235

Fax: 412-624-3242

My Website »


  • MD, "Gr. T. Popa" School of Medicine of Iasi (Romania)
  • PhD, "Gr. T. Popa" School of Medicine of Iasi (Romania)

Academic Affiliation

Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Member, Center for Vaccine Research

Member, Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI)

About Research

My laboratory is interested in the study of the HIV/SIV diversity and pathogenesis. The AIDS pandemic is produced by two different viruses, HIV-1 and HIV-2 that emerged following cross-species transmissions of SIVs, the viruses that naturally infect nonhuman primate species (NHPs) in Africa. As SIVs naturally infect more than 40 species of African non-human primates (NHPs), our major concern is whether or not the remaining viruses infecting other species of African NHPs pose a major threat for humans. Our studies revealed that cross-species transmission of SIVs to humans are not the only requirement for the emergence on new virus strains and suggested that viral adaptation in the new host may play a decisive role for this event. Understanding the mechanisms of viral adaptation to new hosts upon cross-species transmission is of major interest for my laboratory. Using monkey models, we study the mechanisms of viral adaptation associated with viral emergence. Also, in order to better understand the AIDS pathogenesis, we are using various models of SIV infection in natural hosts. In African monkeys SIV are not pathogenic in the vast majority of cases. My group is involved in the study of all currently available models (sooty mangabeys, African green monkeys and mandrills) and generated significant results that challenged core paradigms of SIV pathogenesis. These studies may help us to control HIV infection in patients. Since no vaccine strategy currently developed seems to be effective, these alternative approaches may be essential in the control of AIDS pandemic.

Lab Personnel

Dongzhu Ma, PhD, Research Associate
Kevin Raehtz, Graduate Student
Jan Kristoff, Research Technician IV

Areas of Interest

SIV diversity; SIV pathogenesis in natural hosts (i.e., African green monkeys) or upon cross-species transmission (macaques); Animal models for a cure; Animal models for protection against the acquisition of HIV infection (i.e., exposed/uninfected individuals)

Additional Academic Affiliations

Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Member, Center for Vaccine ResearchMember, Molecular Virology and Microbiology Graduate Program
Member, Molecular Virology and Microbiology Graduate Program

Selected Publications

Mucosal simian immunodeficiency virus transmission in African green monkeys: susceptibility to infection is proportional to target cell availability at mucosal sites

Coagulation biomarkers predict disease progression in SIV-infected nonhuman primates

Distinct Evolutionary Pressures Underlie Diversity in Simian and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Lineages

Nonhuman Primate Models for HIV Cure Research 

Functional cure of SIVagm infection in rhesus macaques results in complete recovery of CD4+ T cells and is reverted by CD8+ cell depletion

Immunovirological analyses of chronically simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmnd-1- and SIVmnd-2-infected mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx)