Ivona Vasile-Pandrea, MD, PhD

  • Professor, Department of Pathology

Education & Training

  • PhD, Grigore T. Popa School of Medicine and Pharmacy (Romania), 1999
  • MD, Grigore T. Popa School of Medicine and Pharmacy (Romania), 1992

Research Interests

Our work is aimed at understanding why, despite a high prevalence of SIV infection, the African nonhuman primates generally do not progress to AIDS. We are particularly interested to understand how these nonhuman primate species are able to maintain normal levels of immune activation during SIV infection. We believe that the low levels of immune activation and apoptosis allow mucosal CD4 T cell recovery and lack of disease progression in the natural hosts, in spite of continuous high levles viral replication. Our major research directions are therefore aimed to: (i) study of the correlations between the low levels of CCR5 expression on the mucosal CD4+ T cells and the low levels of immune activation and mucosal SIV transmission (particularly through breastfeeding) in the natural hosts; (ii) understanding the role of the interaction between dendritic cells and T regulatory cells in maintaining low levels of immune activation in the nonprogressive hosts; (iii) investigating how microbial translocation impact immune activation and other systemic lesions in progressive and nonprogressive hosts; and (iv) testing new avenues to prevent the intestinal barrier damage or the damage induced by the proinflammatory cytokines released during the HIV infection. Our final goal is to identify new immunotherapeutic strategies that, in association to antiretroviral drugs, may ultimately transform HIV-1 infection into a nonprogressive infection with an incubation period that exceeds the human lifespan, similar to SIV infection in natural hosts.