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Dr. A.O. Pasternak PhD

Position
Postdoc
Main activities
Research
Specialisation
Molecular Virology
Focus of research

During my postdoctoral training in the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, I have developed an ultra-sensitive HIV-1 detection assay, based on an innovative semi-nested qPCR of my own design (Pasternak, J Clin Microbiol 2008; Kiselinova, Pasternak, PLoS One 2014). This assay is extremely sensitive and robust, allowing to detect the virus in >90% of patient samples that are undetectable by conventional viral load measurements. This assay allowed us to identify cell-associated HIV RNA as a viral marker that predicts disease progression and therapy response, and we have demonstrated the clinical value of this biomarker in several publications. In particular, we have shown that cell-associated HIV RNA predicts antiretroviral therapy (ART) failure and correlates with subtle changes in patients’ adherence to ART in the absence of virological rebound in plasma (Pasternak, PLoS One 2009; J Infect Dis 2012). This pioneering work opened the door for a wider use of HIV biomarkers for monitoring ART response and studying HIV persistence, and the assays I developed are now used in a number of research laboratories worldwide, including those at the forefront of HIV cure research (Rasmussen, Lancet HIV 2014; Elliott, PLoS Pathogens 2014). More recently, I received two prestigious research grants from the Dutch AIDS Fonds as a Principal Investigator, allowing me to start an independent research group within the department. My current scientific interests are focused on persistence and dynamics of HIV reservoir. The ongoing research projects of my group deal with HIV reservoir and viral diversity in patients treated with ART during primary infection, viral and host factors determining immunological failure on ART, and virological correlates of co-morbidities in HIV-infected patients.

Key publications
  • Pasternak AO, Berkhout B, HIV Reservoir: Finding the Right Needles in a Needlestack. CELL HOST MICROBE 2016;20 (3):280-282 [PubMed]
  • Pasternak AO, Lukashov VV, Berkhout B, Cell-associated HIV RNA: a dynamic biomarker of viral persistence. RETROVIROLOGY 2013;10 (1):41 [PubMed]
  • Pasternak AO, de Bruin M, Jurriaans S, Bakker M, Berkhout B, Prins JM, Lukashov VV, Modest Nonadherence to Antiretroviral Therapy Promotes Residual HIV-1 Replication in the Absence of Virological Rebound in Plasma. J INFECT DIS 2012;206 (9):1443-1452 [PubMed]
  • Cornelissen M, Pasternak AO, Grijsen ML, Zorgdrager F, Bakker M, Blom P, Prins JM, Jurriaans S, van der Kuyl AC, HIV-1 Dual Infection Is Associated With Faster CD4(+) T-Cell Decline in a Cohort of Men With Primary HIV Infection. CLIN INFECT DIS 2012;54 (4):539-547 [PubMed]
  • Pasternak AO, van den Born E, Spaan WJ, Snijder EJ, Sequence requirements for RNA strand transfer during nidovirus discontinuous subgenomic RNA synthesis. EMBO J 2001;20 (24):7220-7228 [PubMed]
All Publications
Curriculum Vitae

EDUCATION

PhD, Molecular Virology, Leiden University, The Netherlands, 2003

Master of Science, Genetics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, 1995

Bachelor of Science, Biophysics, Technical University of St.Petersburg, Russia, 1991

 

WORK EXPERIENCE

November 2011 – present
ACADEMIC MEDICAL CENTER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
Senior researcher

January 2006 – October 2011
ACADEMIC MEDICAL CENTER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
Postdoctoral researcher

January 1998 – December 2005
LEIDEN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER, THE NETHERLANDS
Researcher in training (PhD student) and postdoctoral researcher

January 1995 – December 1997
HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM, ISRAEL
Postgraduate researcher

 

RELEVANT TRAINING COURSES

"Structure and function of biomolecules", BIOMAC graduate school, Leiden, Netherlands, 1998

Presentation techniques, LUMC postgraduate course, Leiden, Netherlands, 1998

ICGEB Theoretical Course "RNA structure and function", Trieste, Italy, 2000

European School of Genetic Medicine, 7th course in "Cancer genetics", Bertinoro, Italy, 2002

MGC Course on "Transgenesis, gene targeting and gene therapy", Leiden, Netherlands, 2003

Molecular Medicine Postgraduate School of Erasmus MC, Course on "Oncogenesis and tumor biology", Rotterdam, Netherlands, 2003

Course on laboratory animals (ex. ART.9 Wet op de Dierproeven), Leiden, Netherlands, 2005
 

AWARDS

Young Investigator Scholarship to attend Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) 2017, Seattle, WA, from IAS USA
International Scholarship to attend the Towards an HIV Cure Symposium and the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016), Durban, South Africa, from International AIDS Society
International Scholarship to attend the Towards an HIV Cure Symposium and the IAS 2015 Meeting, Vancouver, Canada, from International AIDS Society
Travel Scholarship for the Keystone Symposium "Mechanisms of HIV Persistence: Implications for a Cure" (Boston, MA, 2015), from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Young Investigator Scholarship to attend Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) 2015, Seattle, WA, from IAS USA
Travel Bursary for the Frontiers in Retrovirology Meeting (Cambridge, UK, 2013), from British HIV Association
International Scholarship for the IAS 2011 Meeting (Rome, Italy), from International AIDS Society
International Scholarship for the AIDS 2010 Meeting (Vienna, Austria), from International AIDS Society

PUBLICATIONS

H-index: 14
i10-index: 15
Average number of citations per publication: 44,7

Current research funding
  • Stichting Aidsfonds/SOA AIDS Nederland