The Experimental Virology Core of the UMMS Center for AIDS Research offers numerous services at highly competitive prices. We foster an environment of collaborative and innovative AIDS research for UMass- and non-UMass investigators to work on independent and collaborative projects that are related to HIV and new emerging infectious human pathogens.

Training Services

  • The training session begins with an interview with the Core Director who will establish the baseline level of competence and knowledge of the potential users
  • Review the NIH guidelines for safe-handling of pathogenic agents
  • The individual is provided an orientation "walk-through" to get acquainted with the day-to-day working practices
  • The individual is briefed regarding the accidental pathogen exposure reporting system
  • A hard copy of the biocontainment procedures (Standard Operating Procedures) to be followed while using the facility is provided to the individual
  • The individual is also required to watch a video presentation of the safe practices in handling pathogens like HIV
    • Periodic presentation of this video (or updated versions) along with a review of the biocontainment procedures is scheduled to serve as a refresher course for the users of the Core D facility.

Maintenance and other appropriate (technical) personnel will work in the lab under the supervision of the Core Director.

Research Services

Elutriation Services

  • Offer monocytes/macrophages and matching PBMCs

Molecular and Virology Assays

  • Infectivity, tropism and phenotype assays
  • Develop assays and perform molecular, virology and diagnostic assays

Cells and Virus Services

  • Isolate PBMC from normal human donor blood and provide activated or non-activated primary PBMC for viral infectivity studies
  • Provide cell lines and T-cells (including enriched CD4 or CD8 T-cells) for infectivity and tropism studies
  • Provide macrophages free of T-cell contamination using immunobeads or other improved cell-separation techniques (from monocytes derived from elutriated PBMC) and autologous PBMC for infectivity and tropism studies
    • HLA-typed on request
  • The Core D facility provides phenotypically and genotypically characterized HIV-1 viral stocks
  • Transfection, Generate Pseudovirus and Labeled Virus
  • Provide well-characterized viral stocks of primary isolates and functional, biological

Qualitative and Quantitative quantification of virus

  • Instruments
  • Perform molecular detection/diagnostic assays including qualitative and quantitative RNA and DNA-PCR for viral genomes; p24 antigen ELISA
  • Perform Taqman- & LightCycler-based PCR assays for real-time detection and quantitation of viral DNA in clinical samples & for LTR-circle assay
  • Detect and quantitate HIV RNA and DNA in Whole Blood and DBS, EBV, CMV
  • Identify low levels of viral replication and loads
  • Determine HAART-induced viral load changes and resistance


Phenotypic & Genotypic characterizations of virus


  • Titer virus in appropriate host cells
  • Characterize the macrophage-tropism
  • Single genome amplification (SGA) of env genes from plasma and cells
  • Full-length sequencing of env gene
  • Determine expression of functional env protein
  • Generae env+-pseudotyped viruses
  • Determine the infectivity of the virus in CD4 T-cells
  • Determine the entry phenotype & kinetics and replication kinetics and receptor-tropism in primary T-cells, T-cell lines, and cell lines co-expressing CD4 and chemokine receptors
  • Determine Neutralizing and Inhibitory titers to huMab and entry-inhibitors
  • Determine the entry phenotype & kinetics
  • Identify and/or monitor the efficacy of potential anti-HIV compounds/drugs targeted to structural or regulatory gene functions using cell-culture systems
  • Participate in Quality Control & Certification programs related to cell-culture and PCR diagnostics and monitoring

Repository Services

  • Maintain a repository of cell lines (also with indicator read-out genes) routinely used for viral phenotype characterization for immediate availability to investigators
  • Maintain a repository of titered viral stocks (primary isolates, lab-adapted and reference virus, pseudotyped and env+-pseudotyped viruses)
  • Maintain a repository of HIV- wild type and mutant plasmids & cell-culture reagents
  • Maintain vast repository of primary donor PBMC, and cell lines

Fostering Interaction, Collaboration and Outreach Services

  • Training and Mentoring -- Biosafety procedures; Assays
  • Training in use of HIV and Blood-Borne Pathogens
  • Lab orientation and training for UMMS community, neighboring schools and international programs
  • Certificate Programs  (NIH, CLIA)
  • Qualitative and Quantitative PCR
  • Qualitative Co-culture Assays
  • Support of Pilot Projects (UMMS/National/International)
  • Help non-HIV researchers obtain HIV grants by providing free resources
  • Provide resources to investigators in non-AIDS research (Emerging diseases)
  • Seminars and Lab Meetings