Beatrice H. Hahn

University of Pennsylvania


Primary Section: 44, Microbial Biology
Membership Type: Member (elected 2012)

Research Interests

Studying disease mechanisms from an evolutionary perspective, Hahn found that human immunodeficiency viruses types 1 and 2 (HIV-1 and HIV-2) emerged as a result of multiple zoonotic introductions of simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) from naturally infected primates to man. Using novel non-invasive molecular approaches, she traced the origin of pandemic and non-pandemic HIV-1 to geographically distinct ape populations in sub-Saharan Africa and revealed the pathogenic potential of the simian counterpart of HIV-1, SIVcpz, in wild-living chimpanzees. This observation prompted her more recent interests in developing novel antibody gene transfer based prevention strategies for SIVcpz and HIV-1 that could benefit both apes and humans, respectively. Hahn also traced the evolutionary origin of Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly form of human malaria, to West African gorillas, a finding that has prompted new research efforts into the origins of other human Plasmodium parasites and host/pathogen interactions that underlie the transmission and pathogenicity of malaria.  Hahn's most recent work is focused on developing a protective AIDS vaccine for humans by dissecting the HIV-1 transmission process and studying the biological properties of newly transmitted founder viruses

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