Dr. Sodsai Tovanabutra received a M.Sc in Biochemistry from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, UK. She joined MHRP as a research fellow. Prior to leading the Viral Sequencing Core (VSC) Section, Dr. Tovanabutra served as project coordinator for many international reproductive health studies while in Thailand. She was also Co-Principal Investigator for US-Thai collaborative studies on the epidemiology of HIV among drug users and the study on hormonal contraception and risk of HIV acquisition. Dr. Tovanabutra has characterized the genetic diversity HIV-1 strains in Southeast Asia, North America, East Africa and West Africa to provide a better understanding of pandemic molecular epidemiology of HIV-1. Viral Sequencing Core capability has been strengthened by knowledgeable and experienced team members. Mr. Eric Sanders-Buell is Laboratory Director with a wealth of knowledge, experience and technical expertise in HIV-1 genetic characterization with 30 years in the field. Ms. Meera Bose and Ms. Anne Marie O’Sullivan are laboratory managers with more than 15 years scientific expertise. Mr. Peter Phuc Pham has been instrumental in bioinformatic analysis of VSC data, along with Dr. Paula Correa Nunez who has greatly enhanced VSC capacity due to her expertise in deep sequencing technology and analysis.
In support of MHRP’s research studies, Dr. Tovanabutra and her scientific staff at the Viral Sequencing Core (VSC) employ advanced molecular biological techniques such as single genome sequencing, targeted and long read deep sequencing, and genetic engineering to study the genetics of HIV-1, SIV, HCV, Mycoplasma genitalium and SARS-CoV-2.
VSC is one of a few laboratory centers in the U.S. that perform high capacity HIV-1 sequencing. The VSC routinely amplifies and sequences HIV-1 full genomes from plasma/serum, cerebrospinal fluid and cell/tissue samples. VSC team also generates HIV-1 infectious molecular clones and HIV-1 envelope functional clones from acute/early HIV-1 infections and vaccine breakthrough infections.
HIV sequences and reagents generated by the VSC have greatly contributed to vaccine design, evaluation of vaccine efficacy and HIV-1 research studies. These products have been distributed to outside collaborators in the HIV/SIV scientific community. In addition, the VSC has the capacity to measure cell associated viral load at lower copy numbers to support studies on viral load in cells and tissues for HIV-1 vaccine and remission research.
The VSC Laboratory is equipped to perform; ultra-clean RNA/DNA isolation; standard PCR; real-time and digital PCR; sequencing (Sanger and deep-sequencing technologies); cloning and cell culture. The VSC has 13 staff members, the laboratory director, 2 laboratory managers, 1 scientist, 1 bioinformatician and 8 research assistants.
Tovanabutra S, Beyrer C, Sakkhachornphop S, Razak MH, Ramos G, Vongchak T, Rungruengthanakit K, Saokhieo P, Tejafong K, Kim B, De Souza M, Robb ML, Birx DL, Jittiwutikarn J, Suriyanon V, Celentano DD and McCutchan FE. The changing Molecular Epidemiology of HIV-1 among northern Thai drug users, 1999-2002. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 20: 465-475, 2004.
Rolland M, Tovanabutra S, deCamp AC, Frahm N, Gilbert PB, Sanders-Buell E, Heath L, Magaret C, Bose M, Bradfield A, O’Sullivan A, Crossler J, Jones T, Nau M, Wong K, Zhao H, Raugi DN, Sorensen S, Stoddard JN, Maust BS, Deng W, Hural J, Dubey S, Michael NL, Shiver J, Corey L, Li F, Self SG, Kim J, Buchbinder S, Casimiro DR, Robertson ML, Duerr A, McElrath MJ, McCutchan FE, and Mullins JI. Genetic impact of vaccination on breakthrough HIV-1 sequences from the Step trial. 2011. Nature Medicine. Mar;17(3):366-71.
Rolland M, Edlefsen PT, Larsen BB, Tovanabutra S, Sanders-Buell E, Hertz T, Decamp AC, Carrico C, Menis S, Magaret CA, Ahmed H, Juraska M, Chen L, Konopa P, Nariya S, Stoddard JN, Wong K, Zhao H, Deng W, Maust BS, Bose M, Howell S, Bates A, Lazzaro M, O'Sullivan A, Lei E, Bradfield A, Ibitamuno G, Assawadarachai V, O'Connell RJ, Desouza MS, Nitayaphan S, Rerks-Ngarm S, Robb ML, McLellan JS, Georgiev I, Kwong PD, Carlson JM, Michael NL, Schief WR, Gilbert PB, Mullins JI, Kim JH. Increased HIV-1 vaccine efficacy against viruses with genetic signatures in Env V2. Nature. 2012 Oct 18;490(7420):417-20.
Robb ML, Eller LA, Kibuuka H, Rono K, Maganga L, Nitayaphan S, Kroon E, Sawe FK, Sinei S, Sriplienchan S, Jagodzinski LL, Malia J, Manak M, de Souza MS, Tovanabutra S, Sanders-Buell E, Rolland M, Dorsey-Spitz J, Eller MA, Milazzo M, Li Q, Lewandowski A, Wu H, Swann E, O'Connell RJ, Peel S, Dawson P, Kim JH, Michael NL; RV 217 Study Team. Prospective Study of Acute HIV-1 Infection in Adults in East Africa and Thailand. N Engl J Med. 2016 Jun 2;374(22):2120-30.
Kijak GH, Sanders-Buell E, Chenine AL, Eller MA, Goonetilleke N, Thomas R, Leviyang S, Harbolick EA, Bose M, Pham P, Oropeza C, Poltavee K, O'Sullivan AM, Billings E, Merbah M, Costanzo MC, Warren JA, Slike B, Li H, Peachman KK, Fischer W, Gao F, Cicala C, Arthos J, Eller LA, O'Connell RJ, Sinei S, Maganga L, Kibuuka H, Nitayaphan S, Rao M, Marovich MA, Krebs SJ, Rolland M, Korber BT, Shaw GM, Michael NL, Robb ML, Tovanabutra S, Kim JH. Rare HIV-1 transmitted/founder lineages identified by deep viral sequencing contribute to rapid shifts in dominant quasispecies during acute and early infection. PLoS pathogens. 2017 September 14;13(9):e1006620.
Chenine, AL, Merbah M, Wieczorek L, Molnar S, Mann B, Lee J, OSullivan AM, Bose M, Sanders-Buell E, Kijak G, Herrera C, McLinden R, OConnell R, Michael NL, Robb ML, Kim JH, Polonis VR, Tovanabutra S. Neutralization Sensitivity of a Novel HIV-1 CRF01_AE Panel of Infectious Molecular Clones. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2018 Jul 1;78(3):348-355. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000001675. PMID: 29528942; PMCID: PMC5997515.
Chang D, Sanders-Buell E, Bose M, OSullivan AM, Pham P, Kroon E, Colby DJ, Sirijiatuphat R, Billings E, Pinyakorn S, Chomchey N, Rutvisuttinunt W, Kijak G, de Souza M, Excler JL, Phanuphak P, Phanuphak N, OConnell R, Kim JH, Robb ML, Michael NL, Ananworanich J, Tovanabutra S. Molecular epidemiology of a primarily MSM acute HIV-1 cohort in Bangkok, Thailand and connections within networks of transmission in Asia. J Int AIDS Soc. 2018 Nov;21(11):e25204. doi: 10.1002/jia2.25204.
Tovanabutra S, Sirijatuphat R, Pham PT, Bonar L, Harbolick EA, Bose M, Song H, Chang D, Oropeza C, O'Sullivan AM, Balinang J, Kroon E, Colby DJ, Sacdalan C, Hellmuth J, Chan P, Prueksakaew P, Pinyakorn S, Jagodzinski LL, Sutthichom D, Pattamaswin S, de Souza M, Gramzinski RA, Kim JH, Michael NL, Robb ML, Phanuphak N, Ananworanich J, Valcour V, Kijak GH, Sanders-Buell E, Spudich S; MHRP Viral Sequencing Core; RV254/SEARCH 010 Study Team. Deep Sequencing Reveals Central Nervous System Compartmentalization in Multiple Transmitted/Founder Virus Acute HIV-1 Infection. Cells. 2019 Aug 15;8(8). pii: E902. doi: 10.3390/cells8080902.
Rolland M, Tovanabutra S, Dearlove B, Li Y, Owen CL, Lewitus E, Sanders-Buell E, Bose M, O'Sullivan A, Rossenkhan R, Labuschagne JPL, Edlefsen PT, Reeves DB, Kijak G, Miller S, Poltavee K, Lee J, Bonar L, Harbolick E, Ahani B, Pham P, Kibuuka H, Maganga L, Nitayaphan S, Sawe FK, Eller LA, Gramzinski R, Kim JH, Michael NL, Robb ML; RV217 Study Team. Molecular dating and viral load growth rates suggested that the eclipse phase lasted about a week in HIV-1 infected adults in East Africa and Thailand. PLoS Pathog. 2020 Feb 6;16(2):e1008179. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008179. PMID: 32027734; PMCID: PMC7004303.
Wieczorek L, Peachman K, Adams DJ, Barrows B, Molnar S, Schoen J, Dawson P, Bryant C, Chenine AL, Sanders-Buell E, Srithanaviboonchai K, Pathipvanich P, Michael NL, Robb ML, Tovanabutra S, Rao M, Polonis VR. Evaluation of HIV-1 neutralizing and binding antibodies in maternal-infant transmission in Thailand. Virology. 2020 Sep;548:152-159. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2020.05.007. Epub 2020 Jun 24. PMID: 32838936.