Graham Simmons, PhD

Senior Investigator, Virology


Graham Simmons, PHD


Graham Simmons, PhD, is a senior investigator at Vitalant Research Institute and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of California, San Francisco.   Dr. Simmons has worked on various aspects of viral entry and virus:host interactions for over 25 years, beginning with a PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Paul Clapham and Prof. Robin Weiss at the Institute of Cancer Research in London studying various aspects of HIV interactions with chemokine receptors and chemokines. Following an EMBO long-term fellowship funded postion with Prof. Paul Bates at Upenn studying attachment and processing factors of Ebola and coronavirus entry, Dr. Simmons established his laboratory at the Research Institute focused on emerging and remeerging viruses

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Graham Simmons, PhD
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Phone: (415) 901-0748
Fax: (415) 567-5899


  • Senior Investigator, Vitalant Research Institute, San Francisco
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, UCSF Department of Laboratory Medicine


  • B.S., Microbiology and Virology, University of Warwick, UK
  • M.S., Immunology, King’s College London, UK
  • Ph.D., Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK
  • Post-doctoral fellow, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, PA
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Celine Cheng
Research Associate I

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Jing Jin, PhD
Staff Scientist

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Kai Lu
Research Associate II

Research Interests


The long-time focus of the Simmons lab has been on emerging and reemerging human viruses, from Ebolavirus and SARS-CoV through to the current Zika virus epidemic. We have developed and optimized a number of serological assays, particularly focusing on virus neutralization, to aid in studies of the prevelance and incidence of emerging viruses in the blood donor population. A second area of interest focuses on the molecular mechanisms of viral entry and egress. We are using this information to identify targets for small molecules and antibodies to inhibit such processes. Finally, we are exploiting our unique access to acute samples that blood banking offers, in order to characterize the B cell immune responses to many of these viruses.

  • Viral Serology

    Over the preceding 30 years many new, or previously neglected, infectious agents have entered the sphere of human diseases. Many of these agents pose a threat to the nation’s blood supply, particularly during the initial transition into the population. While our current focus has been on arboviruses, including chikungunya and Zika virus, many other viruses have the potential to emerge. We are using serological and molecular techniques to study the prevalence and threat that emerging infectious diseases pose to distinct populations.

  • Anti-Viral Antibodies

    The routine screening of blood donors for viral nucleic acid allows us to identify infected blood donors at all stages of acute infection, and then enroll them in follow-up studies. We have taken advantage of this in order to begin to characterize the diversity and strength of acute and memory humoral immune responses against viruses such as CHIKV and ZIKV. Furthermore, we have identified and characterized a number of human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that may be therapeutically useful.

  • Inhibitors of Viral Entry

    Therapeutics for many emerging/reemerging viruses are lacking. Therefore, we are extending our knowledge of two critical aspects of the viral lifecycle – entry and egress – in order to target them for anti-viral development. We are currently focused on the identification of candidate inhibitors for a number of viruses, including CHIKV, SARS-CoV and Ebola, leading to the identification of small molecule inhibitors of late stages of viral entry for SARS-CoV and Ebola and of antibody inhibitors of CHIKV viral budding.