Dr. Spector, a world leader in HIV research for more than 25 years, is Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics, the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Director of the UCSD Mother-Child-Adolescent HIV Program. His laboratory research has used molecular and Immunologic approaches to study host-virus interactions of human cytomegalovirus (CMV) and human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) with a particular emphasis developing novel approaches for the detection, treatment, genetic risk factors and eradication of persistent viruses of humans including the central nervous system.
The Spector Lab has been involved with HIV/AIDS research since the beginning of the epidemic. Current ongoing research examines HIV pathogenesis with a particular emphasis on host-virus interactions, and the associations of host genetic variants on HIV diseases progression and HIV-related diseases including CNS impairment in children and adults. The laboratory’s interest in the identification of host factors that affect HIV pathogenesis led us to the novel finding that during permissive infection, HIV down-regulates autophagy to promote its own replication, and the induction of autophagy (using mTOR inhibitors as well as vitamin D3) inhibits HIV replication. The laboratory has also identified specific host genetic variants that are associated with mother-to-child transmission, HIV disease progression, and antiretroviral pharmacokinetics and adverse effects. This research has led to our examining the association of host factors that control HIV replication with the goal of identifying novel strategies to eradicate HIV from those infected.