Nafees Ahmad, PhD

Professor, Microbiology and Immunology
Additional Contact Info: 
Fax: (520) 626-2100
  • Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India ( B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc.)
  • Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India ( M.Phil. and Ph.D.)
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, 1985 (post-doctoral training)
Major Areas of Research Interest: 
Pediatric AIDS is one of the fastest growing aspects of the AIDS pandemic in the United States and worldwide, as a greater number of women in the childbearing age group are infected with HIV-1. Infants born to mothers infected with HIV-1 are at risk of acquiring HIV-1 infection and subsequently developing AIDS. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2000, 10 million children will have been born HIV infected. Mother-to-infant transmission of HIV-1 mainly occurs perinatally at an estimated rate of more than 30 percent. In addition, AIDS-related or unrelated cancers can influence HIV-1 transmission and infection in mothers and infants. However, the molecular mechanisms of maternal transmission of HIV-1 are not known, which makes it difficult to define strategies for prevention and treatment of HIV-1 infection in children. Genetic studies from my laboratory suggested that a minor subtype of maternal virus from the genetically heterogeneous virus population was transmitted to the infant. The minor HIV-1 genotype predominates initially as a homogeneous population in the infant and then becomes diverse as the infant grows older. Moreover, we don’t understand the molecular and biological properties of the HIV-1 that is transmitted from mother to infant.
Our hypothesis is that specific molecular and biological properties of HIV-1 are critical determinants of perinatal transmission. A better characterized HIV-1 transmitted from mother to infant will contribute to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in maternal transmission of HIV-1. Furthermore, the elucidation of the viral determinants involved in maternal transmission may allow AIDS researchers to develop methods to prevent mother-to-infant transmission by means of perinatal interventions, such as gene therapy, immunotherapy, antiviral therapy, and a preventive vaccine.
Selected Publications: 
Ramakrishnan R. Hussain M. Holzer A. Mehta R. Sundaravaradan V. Ahmad N. Evaluations of HIV type 1 rev gene diversity and functional domains following perinatal transmission. AIDS Research & Human Retroviruses. 21(12):1035-45, 2005.
Ahmad N. The vertical transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1: molecular and biological properties of the virus. Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences. 42(1):1-34, 2005.
Matala E. Hahn T. Yedavalli VR. Ahmad N. Biological characterization of HIV type 1 envelope V3 regions from mothers and infants associated with perinatal transmission. AIDS Research & Human Retroviruses. 17(18):1725-35, 2001.
Sponsored Research Through MSRP: 
Andrew Horodner (MSRP 1998): "The role of the HIV-1 vpu gene in maternal-fetal transmission."
NIH High School Student Research Program: 
-Amy Milson, Rico Rico High School, 2003
Wednesday, November 18, 2015