Core Virology

Core K redStarting as a centralized BSL2+ laboratory in 1989, over the years, the Virology Core has evolved around two primary activities: (i) the provision of campus-wide laboratory infrastructure for BSL2+ research and (ii) the provision of services that facilitate the research adapted to the needs of our CFAR members. The Virology Core provides access for CFAR members to a fully equipped laboratory infrastructure for BSL2+ research. Provision of access to this infrastructure starts with initial biosafety training and training in fundamental HIV methods. As CFAR members gain access to the BSL2+ facilities, the Virology Core monitors ongoing operation to assure biological safety compliance as mandated by NIH guidelines and UAB Biosafety regulations. Optimal operation is assured by continuous maintenance activities, which includes equipment and facility maintenance.

In addition, the Virology Core delivers services that augment the capabilities and productivity of CFAR researchers. The core:
  • Enables rapid access to research supplies at reduced prices;
  • Serves as a central resource of research material that has been generated by various UAB CFAR researchers; and
  • Provides on-demand services for molecular cloning, protein expression and purification.
With the provision of these services, the Virology Core also offers consultation for all aspects of HIV/AIDS research using infectious virus or vectors, including training for a wide range of experimental methods and assays that have been established over the last decades. To this end, the Virology Core serves to facilitate the research of the next generation of scientists.

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  • Provision of state-of-the-art BSL 2-3 laboratory space, equipment and professional staff. The Virology Core enables CFAR members to conduct research important to the understanding of HIV biology, pathogenesis, immunological response, intervention, prevention, and assay development. The BSL 2-3 facility, including all of the major equipment, is made available to its users.
  • Education and training for “live” HIV virus studies. A committed, highly skilled professional staff is also available providing comprehensive education and training in areas of laboratory safety, equipment utilization, virus cell culture, and virologic assays to support basic and clinical research. This is all conducted under strict adherence to NIH/CDC guidelines for safety.
  • Provision of defined research reagents and materials. The core maintains and provides on an as needed basis, research materials/reagents including an extensive inventory of defined cells line, primary and clonal virus stocks, including newly derive “transmitted viruses”, proviral DNA, HIV-specific monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies that are applicable to several different assays including immunofluorescence, radioimmunoprecipitation, immunoblot, and flow cytometry, and numerous relevant recombinant DNAs. The Core also provides the necessary instruction for utilization of these reagents.
  • Support of multidisciplinary and translation research projects. The BSL 2-3 Laboratory has been highly successful fostering basic and translational research in multidisciplinary AIDS related fields, including inter-institutional programmatic efforts and diverse investigator-initiated grants in areas of molecular virology, physiology, immunology, mucosal immunology, neurology, geographical medicine and international health.
  • Development of new research tools for basic, clinical and translational HIV/AIDS research.The expertise and knowledge of the staff is also available to assist with the development of new research tools, such as assays and reagents, for HIV/AIDS related studies conducted by core users. Many of these services are provided by the Molecular Biology Lab which is is located in room 346 of the Bevill Biomedical Research Building.

  • Biosafety training and BSL 2-3 Laboratory certification. The BSL 2-3 Laboratory administers a comprehensive education and training program in biosafety. Those seeking services for use of the BSL 2-3 containment laboratory to conduct live HIV/AIDS research are trained for “full certification”, enabling them to work independently with ongoing monitoring.
  • Safety controls and quality assurance assessments. All individuals, once qualified to work in the Core, are assessed and monitored for compliance. Failure to comply with appropriate corrective action measures or repeated infractions would lead to the loss of core access privileges.
  • Training in virologic assays, techniques and methods. Training provided by core personnel includes general methodologies such as HIV cell culture and virus propagation in cell lines, HIV-1 isolation from blood, infectious virus titration on various cell types, viral and cellular nucleic acid isolation, immunofluorescence analysis, staining for FACS analysis, and ELISA.
  • Training of participants involved in international HIV/AIDS Programs. Training for participants involved in International programs through UAB can receive first-hand training by the core in techniques such as, basic biocontainment sample processing, good laboratory safety practices, PCR and HIV-1 p24 ELISA for studies conducted at UAB International sites such as CIDRZ in Zambia.


Bar, Katharine J; Tsao, Chun-yen; Iyer, Shilpa S; Decker, Julie M; Yang, Yongping; Bonsignori, Mattia; Chen, Xi; Hwang, Kwan-Ki; Montefiori, David C; Liao, Hua-Xin; Hraber, Peter; Fischer, William; Li, Hui; Wang, Shuyi; Sterrett, Sarah; Keele, Brandon F; Ganusov, Vitaly V; Perelson, Alan S; Korber, Bette T; Georgiev, Ivelin; McLellan, Jason S; Pavlicek, Jeffrey W; Gao, Feng; Haynes, Barton F; Hahn, Beatrice H; Kwong, Peter D; Shaw, George M (2012). Early low-titer neutralizing antibodies impede HIV-1 replication and select for virus escape. PLoS Pathog., 8(5):e1002721. PMCID: 3364956.

Freel SA, Picking RA, Ferrari G, Ding H, Ochsenbauer C, Kappes JC, Kirchherr J, Soderberg K, Weinhold KJ, Cunningham CK, Denny T, Crump JA, Cohen MS, McMichael AJ, Haynes BF, Tomaras GD. (2012) Initial HIV- 1 Antigen-specific CD8+ T cells In Acute HIV-1 Inhibit Transmitted Founder Virus Replication. Journal of Virology 86(12):6835-46. PMID:22514337

King D, Buffa V, Fischetti L, Siddiqui A, Gao Y, Stieh D, Ochsenbauer C, Kappes J, Arts E, and Shattock RJ. Mucosal Tissue Tropism and Dissemination of HIV-1 Subtype B Acute Envelope-Expressing Infectious Molecular Clones. JVI. January 2013 vol. 87 no. 2 890-899 PMID:23135721

Lahey T, Ghosh M, Fahey JV, Shen Z, Mukura LR, Song Y, Cu-Uvin S, Mayer KH, Wright PF, Kappes JC, Ochsenbauer C , and Wira CR (2012): Selective Impact of HIV Disease Progression on the Innate Immune System in the Human Female Reproductive Tract. PLoS One, 7(6):e38100. Epub 2012 June 04. PMID:22675510

Merbah M, Arakelyan A, Edmonds T, Ochsenbauer C, Kappes JC, Shattock RJ, Grivel J-C and Margolis LB. HIV-1 Expressing The Envelopes Of Transmitted/Founder Or Control/Reference Viruses Have Similar Infection Patterns Of CD4 T-Cells In Human Cervical Tissue Ex Vivo. PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e50839, PMID:23236398

Montefiori DC, Karnasuta C, Huang Y, Ahmed H, Gilbert P, de Souza MS, McLinden R, Tovanabutra S, Laurence-Chenine A, Sanders-Buell E, Moody MA, Bonsignori M, Ochsenbauer C, Kappes JC, Tang H, Greene K, Gao H, LaBranche CC, Andrews C, Polonis VR, Ngauy V, Chiu J, Rerks-Ngarm S, Pitisuttithum P, Nitayaphan S, Kaewkungwal J, Self SG, Berman PW, Francis D, Sinangil F, Lee C, Tartaglia J, Robb ML, Haynes BF, Michael NL, and Kim JH (2012). Magnitude and Breadth of the Neutralizing Antibody Response in the RV144 and Vax003 HIV-1 Vaccine Efficacy Trials JID 206(3):431-41.. PMID: 22634875

Ochsenbauer C, Edmonds TG, Ding H, Keele BF, Decker J, Salazar MG, Salazar-Gonzalez JF, Shattock R, Haynes BF, Shaw GM, Hahn BH and Kappes, JC. (2012) Generation of Transmitted/Founder HIV-1 Infectious Molecular Clones and Characterization of their Replication Capacity in CD4 T-Lymphocytes and Monocyte-derived Macrophages. Journal of Virology, 86:2715-2728. PMID:22190722

Parrish NF, Wilen CB, Banks LB, Iyer SS, Pfaff JM, Salazar-Gonzalez JF, Salazar MG, Decker JM, Parrish EH, Berg A, Hopper J, Hora B, Kumar A, Mahlokozera T, Yuan S, Coleman C, Vermeulen M, Ding H, Ochsenbauer C, Tilton JC, Permar SR, Kappes JC, Betts MR, Busch MP, Gao F, Montefiori D, Haynes BF, Shaw GM, Hahn BH, and Doms RW (2012). Transmitted/Founder and Chronic Subtype C HIV-1 Use CD4 and CCR5 Receptors with Equal Efficiency and Are Not Inhibited by Blocking the Integrin α4β7. PLoS Pathog. 8(5):e1002686. Epub 2012 May 31. PMID:22693444.

Parrish NF, Gao F, Li H, Giorg E, Barbian H, Parrish EH, Zaji L, Lyer S, Decker J, Kumar A, Hor B, Berg A, Denny TN, Ding H, Ochsenbauer C, Kappes JC, West AP, Bjorkmang PJ, Wilen CB, Doms RW, O’Brien M, Bhardwaj N, Borrow P, Haynes BF, Muldoo N,
Theiler, JP, Korber B, Shaw GM, Hahn BH. Phenotypic Characteristics of Transmitted Founder HIV-1. PNAS, manuscript in press.

Smalls-Mantey A, Doria-Rose N, Klein R, Patamawenu A, Migueles SA, Ko SY, Hallahan CW, Wong H, Liu B, You L, Scheid J, Kappes JC, Ochsenbauer C, Nabel GJ, Mascola JR, Connors M. (2012) Antibody-Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity Against Primary HIV-Infected CD4+ T Cells is Directly Associated with the Magnitude of Surface IgG Binding. Journal of Virology; 86(16):8672-80.. PMID: 22674985

Supply Center

The core operates an on-site molecular biology supply center with products stocked from:

  • Thermo Fisher Scientific (Invitrogen, Applied Biosystems, Gibco)
  • New England Biolabs
  • Qiagen

The supply center offers discounts, free shipping, and convenient timely access to commonly used molecular biology reagents, enzymes, media, kits, and competent cells, etc.  We can also order items that are not stocked.  Although not stocked, we can order products from Bio-Rad.

The supply center is located in the molecular biology lab in the Bevill Biomedical Research Building, room 346.

If you would like to utilize the supply center please download, complete and return/submit our User Account Form.

We also have an email order form for requesting non-stocked items to be ordered.  It is a Word template file, so upon opening it generates a new file and leaves the original intact.  Also, upon info entry in the upper portion it auto-completes a copy in the lower portion.  This allows us to make the original and a copy with one printing.  Please note the vendor choice drop-down menu in the upper right.  

Dave McPherson (Manager), dmcphers@uab.edu
Tonella Vest, tonella@uab.edu
(205) 934-7755

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Contact Information

John Kappes, PhD
Email:  kappesjc@uab.edu 

Christina Ochsenbauer, PhD
Email: christinaochsenbauer@uabmc.edu

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Lyons Harrison Research Building, Room 610
701 19th Street South
Birmingham AL 35294-0007

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