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My laboratory uses a systems biology approach to decipher the antiretroviral effects of IFN-α in vivo, by studying host gene expression, viral production and viral evolution in HIV-1-infected individuals undergoing IFN-α therapy. Recent data generated by our group strongly suggest that IFN-α suppresses HIV-1 replication in chronically-infected individuals by inducing intrinsic cellular inhibitors of retroviral replication known as host restriction factors. One of these factors, the cytidine deaminase APOBEC3G, blocks HIV-1 infection by hypermutating the viral genome such that it no longer encodes functional proteins that are necessary for viral replication. Another factor, the type 2 integral membrane protein BST-2/tetherin, blocks HIV-1 infection by restricting the release of fully formed progeny virions from infected cells. Our data warrant investigation into therapeutic strategies that specifically enhance the expression of these intrinsic immune factors in HIV-1-infected individuals.

In addition to my principal research projects involving IFN-α and cell-intrinsic immunity, I participate as a bioinformaticist and phylogeneticist in a number of HIV/AIDS collaborations with researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC), San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) and the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology (GIVI).

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Satish K. Pillai, PhD
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Phone: (415) 513-4461
Fax: (415) 567-5899

  • Associate Investigator, Vitalant Research Institute, San Francisco
  • Associate Adjunct Professor, UCSF Department of Laboratory Medicine
  • Associate Director, UCSF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research (CFAR)


  • B.S., Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona
  • Ph.D, Evolutionary Biology, University of California, San Diego

Training / Appointments:

  • Graduate Research Assistant, HIV Sequence Database, Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, UCSF Department of Medicine
  • Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, UCSF Medical School
  • Assistant Adjunct Professor, UCSF Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases
  • Staff Investigator, San Francisco VA Medical Center
  • Visiting Scientist, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology
  • Research Associate, Center for Comparative Genomics, California Academy of Sciences
  • UCSF AIDS Research Institute (ARI) Executive Committee Member
  • Chair, UCSF Resource Allocation Program (RAP) Basic HIV/AIDS, Infectious Diseases & Global Review Committee
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Pooja Bhardwaj, PhD
Post Doctoral Fellow


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Leonard Chavez, PhD
Staff Scientist I

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Hannah Sperber
Doctoral Student, Research Associate II

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Shivani Desai
Research Associate II

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Konstantinos Georgiou, PhD
Post Doctoral Fellow

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Kyle Raymond
Research Associate I

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Mohamed Bouzidi, PhD
Post Doctoral Fellow