Treatment with Commonly Used Antiretroviral Drugs Induces a Type I/III Interferon Signature in the Gut in the Absence of HIV Infection

The editors of Cell Reports Medicine selected this article by Hughes SM et al from the Hladik Laboratory as one of the journal’s best in 2020. To learn more, follow the link below.

Potent Restriction of Sexual Zika Virus Infection by the Lipid Fraction of Extracellular Vesicles in Semen

Drs. Lucia Vojtech, Germán Gornalusse, and Florian Hladik authored "Potent Restriction of Sexual Zika Virus Infection by the Lipid Fraction of Extracellular Vesicles in Semen", published in Frontiers in Microbiology. To learn more, follow the link below.

Mission: Our mission is to reduce the burden of infections that may harm individuals and families. We strive to gain a deep understanding of the immune defenses in the female reproductive tract and the placenta to better prevent and treat infections during all stages of the life cycle. We envision a world free of preventable infections, or where people who already carry viruses such as herpes simplex and human immunodeficiency virus can be cured.

Notable achievements

  • Characterization of messenger nucleic acids carried by extracellular vesicles in semen. 
  • Elucidation of the earliest steps how human immunodeficiency virus penetrates the female genital mucosa and establishes infection. Exact knowledge about how someone is infected with HIV helps in devising strategies to prevent infection.
  • Development of a new genetic assay to measure the latent HIV reservoir, which will be an essential tool for clinical trials that aim to cure HIV infection.
  • First to demonstrate that a maternal Zika virus infection could cause fetal brain injury in a nonhuman primate model.
  • First to show that a choriodecidual Group B Streptococci infection could induce fetal lung injury prior to labor, mediated by cytokine production of placenta in the course of resolving the infection.

Learn more about the achievements listed above here.

Meet the Principal Investigators


Adams Waldorf, KristinaKristina Adams Waldorf, MD
Research Interests: bacterial and viral infections in pregnancy, host-pathogen interactions in pregnancy, mechanisms of preterm labor, therapeutics and vaccines in pregnancy, tolerance mechanisms within the plancenta, innate and adaptive immunity in pregnancy and fetal development, Group B Streptococcus, Zika virus, Influenza A virus, SARS-CoV-2
Centers & Networks: Center for Reproductive Sciences, Center for Innate Immunity and Immune Disease, Center for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases, Center for Human Development and
                                             Disability, the Pathobiology Program (Department of Global Health)
                                             and the Washington National Primate Research Center




Elizabeth Bukusi, MBChB, M.Med (ObGyn), MPH, PhD
Research Interests: Sexual and reproductive health in resource limited settings, HIV prevention, STI, microbicides, research ethics, bioethics, research regulatory system, capacity building, HIV care
Centers & Networks:​ Kenya Medical Research Institute, University of California San Francisco, University of Nairobi and Aga Khan University, Centre for Bioethics and Culture, Sind Institute for Urology and Transplantation , Karachi , Maseno University , Kisumu





Linda O. Eckert, MD
Research Interests: Immunization: efficacy, implementation, intersection of immunizations with reproductive health, use of immunizations in pregnancy, vaccine policy, vaccine equity; cervical cancer prevention: HPV vaccine efficacy studies in special populations, cervical cancer screening trials, cervical cancer prevention policy development
Centers & Networks: World Health Organization consultant, Gavi Immunization Review Committee Member, ACOG Expert Immunization and Public Health Preparedness Advisory Group,
                                             ACOG Liaison to ACIP, PATH RSV advisory board, I-Tech
                                             Technical Advisor on Cervical Cancer Prevention



Germán Gornalusse, PhD, MS
Research Interests: Impact of opioids on STI pathogenesis, epigenetics and infectious disease: understanding correlates of protection, HIV latency and cure, STI coinfections: dissecting synergism to potentially interrupt the cycle
Centers & Networks: 




Michael Gravett, MD
Research Interests: Perinatal & maternal infectious diseases, preterm birth causes & prevention, global health (South Asia)
Centers & Networks: Nuffield Dept.of Women's & Reproductive Health University of Oxford, Preterm Birth International Collaborative Global




Florian Hladik, PhD, MD
Research Interests: HIV and STI prevention, treatment, and cure, reproductive & mucosal immunology, optimization and standardization of mucosal sampling techniques
Centers & Networks: Center for Reproductive Science



Alisa Kachikis, MD, MSc
Research Interests: Maternal immunization, infections in pregnancy, prevention of preterm birth
Centers & Networks: Center for Reproductive Science





John Liao, MD, PhD
Research Interests: gynecologic cancers, ovarian cancer, immunotherapy, clinical trials
Centers & Networks: Cancer Vaccine Institute, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance





Erica Lokken, PhD, MS
Research Interests: Epidemiology at the intersection of STI/vaginal microbiota and reproductive and perinatal outcomes with particular focus on preconception, infertility, miscarriage, and preterm birth
Centers & Networks: Kenya Research and Training Center; Global Center for Integrated Health of Women, Adolescents, and Children (both are UW Dept of Global Health Centers)





Romel Mackelprang, PhD
Research Interests: Immune activation during HIV infection and treatment




Stephen McCartney, MD, PhD
Research Interests: placental and reproductive immunology, preeclampsia, preterm birth, infections in pregnancy, biological therapeutics
Centers & Networks: Center for Reproductive Science





Elizabeth Micks, MD, MPH
Research Interests: family planning, contraception, gender-affirming hormone therapy
Centers & Networks: Center for Reproductive Science





Dorothy Patton, PhD
Research Interests: sexually transmitted infections: pathogenesis, immune responses, co-infection dynamics, Multipurpose Prevention Technologies (MPT) Development in support of  STI/HIV prevention, non-human primate models
Centers & Networks: 




Raj (Swati) Shree, MD
Research Interests: pregnancy and microchimerism, maternal fetal health
Centers & Networks: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Department of Cardiology, Preeclampsia Foundation, Preeclampsia Registry
Studies Currently Recruiting: Preeclampsia and later-life cardiovascular disease




Lucia Vojtech, PhD
Research Interests: Immune tolerance to pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, reproductive and mucosal immunology
Centers & Networks: Extracellular RNA Communication Consortium, The Human Placenta Project
Studies Currently Recruiting: Paternal-specific tolerance during pregnancy