Paolo Lusso, M.D., Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Viral Pathogenesis Section


Building 10, Room 6A11
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892


Research Topics

Despite the extraordinary advances in HIV research over the past 30 years, the AIDS pandemic remains one of the greatest scientific challenges in the world. The main focus of the Viral Pathogenesis Section (VPS) is to study the pathogenesis of HIV-1/AIDS and to use this knowledge to devise innovative treatment and vaccine strategies. A primary area of interest is the elucidation of the structure-function relationships within the HIV-1 envelope, with the aim of identifying conserved functional regions and elucidating the structural basis of immune evasion, one of the main obstacles to vaccine development. This knowledge guides the VPS efforts to rationally engineer new vaccine immunogens capable of eliciting the production of broadly neutralizing antibodies.

Other research topics include the study of endogenous immune modulators that regulate HIV-1 transmission, replication, and pathogenesis, including antiviral chemokines, interleukin-7, and integrin α4β7. The VPS uses a comprehensive research approach that combines classic immunology and virology with state-of-the-art post-genomic technologies and pre-clinical in vivo studies in nonhuman primates.


Dr. Lusso received his M.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Turin and his Ph.D. from the Ministry of Scientific and Technologic Research, Rome, Italy. He is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and in infectious diseases. He came to NIH for the first time in 1986 to work in the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology under Dr. Robert C. Gallo at the National Cancer Institute. He returned to Italy in 1994, where he created the Laboratory of Human Virology at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan and became associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Cagliari. In 2006, he again joined NIH, where he became chief of the Viral Pathogenesis Section in the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. He is an executive editor of Current HIV Research and a member of the editorial board of several other journals. He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

Selected Publications

  1. Liu Q, Acharya P, Dolan MA, Zhang P, Guzzo C, Lu J, Kwon A, Gururani D, Miao H, Bylund T, Chuang GY, Druz A, Zhou T, Rice WJ, Wigge C, Carragher B, Potter CS, Kwong PD, Lusso P. Quaternary contact in the initial interaction of CD4 with the HIV-1 envelope trimer. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2017;24(4):370-378.
  2. Zhang P, Gorman J, Geng H, Liu Q, Lin Y, Tsybovsky Y, Go EP, Dey B, Andine T, Kwon A, Patel M, Gururani D, Uddin F, Guzzo C, Cimbro R, Miao H, McKee K, Chuang GY, Martin L, Sironi F, Malnati MS, Desaire H, Berger EA, Mascola JR, Dolan MA, Kwong PD, Lusso P. Interdomain Stabilization Impairs CD4 Binding and Improves Immunogenicity of the HIV-1 Envelope Trimer. Cell Host Microbe. 2018;23(6):832-844.e6.
  3. Guzzo C, Ichikawa D, Park C, Phillips D, Liu Q, Zhang P, Kwon A, Miao H, Lu J, Rehm C, Arthos J, Cicala C, Cohen MS, Fauci AS, Kehrl JH, Lusso P. Virion incorporation of integrin α4β7 facilitates HIV-1 infection and intestinal homing. Sci Immunol. 2017;2(11).
  4. Liu Q, Lai YT, Zhang P, Louder MK, Pegu A, Rawi R, Asokan M, Chen X, Shen CH, Chuang GY, Yang ES, Miao H, Wang Y, Fauci AS, Kwong PD, Mascola JR, Lusso P. Improvement of antibody functionality by structure-guided paratope engraftment. Nat Commun. 2019;10(1):721.
  5. Cimbro R, Peterson FC, Liu Q, Guzzo C, Zhang P, Miao H, Van Ryk D, Ambroggio X, Hurt DE, De Gioia L, Volkman BF, Dolan MA, Lusso P. Tyrosine-sulfated V2 peptides inhibit HIV-1 infection via coreceptor mimicry. EBioMedicine. 2016;10:45-54.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Wednesday, August 14, 2019