Zandrea Ambrose, PhD

  • Vice Director, Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
  • Associate Professor, Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Graduate School of Public Health
  • Member, Center for AIDS Elimination (CFAR)
  • Member, Pittsburgh Center for HIV Protein Interactions (PCHPI)
  • Member, Graduate Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI)
  • Member, Integrative Systems Biology (ISB) Graduate Program
  • Member, Center for Evolutionary Biology and Medicine (CEBaM)
  • Member, Hillman Cancer Virology Program (CVP)

Education & Training

  • Postdoctoral and Research Fellow, National Cancer Institute
  • PhD, University of Washington
  • BA, Ohio Wesleyan University

Research Interest Summary

HIV; HIV co-infections; SARS-CoV-2; drug resistance; microscopy

Research Interests

The Ambrose laboratory studies antiretroviral therapeutics used for HIV-1 prevention and suppression, including the characterization of new drug targets against early steps of the virus life cycle, and the impact of drug resistance on HIV-1 transmission, prevention, persistence, and treatment. To identify potential new therapeutic targets for HIV, we use genetics and microscopy assays to investigate host-virus interactions in early infection, including HIV capsid uncoating, reverse transcription and nuclear entry. Recently, the Ambrose lab has also begun research to understand SARS-CoV-2 replication and interaction with host cell pathways.

In addition, our lab studies novel drug candidates and sustained release therapies in vitro and in vivo for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV-1 transmission as well as for antiretroviral treatment (ART) of HIV-infected individuals. We also investigate viral diversity that may impact co-infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis or hepatitis B virus (HBV) and may lead to the development of HIV-1 drug resistance during PrEP or ART, which can impact subsequent or new therapy and the composition and persistence of tissue HIV-1 reservoirs.


Tisthammer K, Kline C, Rutledge T, Diedrich C, Ita S, Lin PL, Ambrose Z, Pennings PS. SIV evolutionary dynamics in cynomolgus macaques during SIV-Mycobacterium tuberculosis co-infection, Viruses 2021, 14(1):48. PMCID: PMC8778162

Zhong Z, Ning J, Boggs EA, Jang S, Wallace C, Telmer C, Bruchez MP, Ahn J, Engelman AN, Zhang P, Watkins SC, Ambrose Z. Cytoplasmic CPSF6 regulates HIV-1 capsid trafficking and infection in a cyclophilin A-dependent manner, mBio 2021, 12:e3142-20. PMCID: PMC8092277

Xu C*, Fischer DK*, Rankovic S*, Li W, Dick R, Runge B, Ahn J, Aiken C, Polenova T, Engelman AN, Ambrose Z, Rousso I, Perilla JR. Permeability of the HIV-1 capsid to metabolites modulates viral DNA synthesis, PLoS Biol 2020, 18(12):e3001015. PMCID: PMC7775124

Melody K, Roy CN, Kline C, Cottrell ML, Evans D, Shutt K, Pennings PS, Keele BF, Bility M, Kashuba ADM, Ambrose Z. Long-acting rilpivirine (RPV LA) pre-exposure prophylaxis does not inhibit vaginal transmission of RPV-resistant HIV-1 nor select for high frequency drug resistance in humanized mice. J Virol 2020, 94(8):e01912-19. PMCID: PMC7108851

Feder AF, Kline C, Polacino P, Cottrell M, Kashuba ADM, Keele BF, Hu SL, Petrov DA, Pennings PS, Ambrose Z. 2019. A spatio-temporal assessment of simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) evolution reveals a highly dynamic process within the host. PLoS Pathog. 13: e1006358.

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