Viviana Simon, M.D., Ph.D.

Department of Microbiology

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My research focuses on understanding viral-host interactions in the context of human and viral diversity. We are interested in the mode of action of known (APOBEC3 cytidine deaminases, SAMHD1) and novel retroviral restriction factors as well as the corresponding HIV, SIV and HTLV antagonists. In addition, we study the mechanisms driving HIV-1 drug resistance, the role of copy number variation within immune system genes and develop tools to study HIV latency and anti-sense transcription at the single cell level. My research has been continuously funded by NIH/NIAID since 2003. In addition to conducting basic research, I serve my community by mentoring and teaching. I am the Co-director of the Advanced Virology Class and I am active in the Microbiology graduate training area (M.D./Ph.D. Admissions committee) and in the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute (Director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute Seminar Series).
Faculty Page        PubMed 

Current Lab members

Lubbertus Mulder, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. Lubbertus Mulder is a research assistant professor in the Microbiology Department at ISMMS and joined the Simon lab in 2006. Prior to that he received his formal education and initial training in Italy, (University of Milan, European Joint Research Center Ispra, and the Institute for Immunobiological Research Siena now GSK). He did his post-doctoral work at the Skirball Intitute at NYU Medical Center, and at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center where he trained in molecular virology. His research interest include the interaction of host factors with HIV-1, the impact of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) on HIV-1 life cycle, the use of ERVs as molecular markers of different pathological states.
Faculty Page        PubMed

Eun Hye Kim, Ph.D.

Dr. Eun Hye Kim joined the Simon laboratory in 2019. Dr. Kim received her Ph.D. degree from Seoul National University, Republic of Korea. Her doctoral thesis focused on immunology and the characterization of anti-inflammatory drugs. Prior to joining the Simon laboratory, Dr. Kim was a permanent full-time employee as a senior research scientist at the International Vaccine Institute for 7 years during which she focused her research efforts on developing vaccines against infectious diseases such as Shigella and influenza for developing countries. Dr. Kim‘s research explored single dose, mucosal vaccination strategies based on live-attenuated vaccines to achieve long-lived heterosubtypic immunity against Shigella and influenza viruses. At Mount Sinai, Dr. Kim’s current research efforts are focused on examining the susceptibility of CD4+ T memory stem cells to infection and examining approaches to prevent this cell type from becoming an HIV reservoir.

Denise Jurczyszak
Ph.D. graduate student

Denise joined the Simon lab in March 2017. She completed her bachelors degree in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology from the University of New Hampshire (Durham, NH) in 2013. Prior to ISMMS, Denise completed her Masters degree in Microbiology from the University of Maine (Orono, ME) where she studied mammalian Influenza-A virus infection in a zebrafish model. Currently, Denise focuses on using CRISPR-based technologies to examine the roles of distinct innate immune factors in the context of HIV infection and studies the impact of transcriptome modifications HIV replication.

Emma McGregor
Ph.D. graduate student

Emma joined the Mulder lab in April 2017. She completed her bachelors degree in biology from the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA) in 2016. Currently, Emma is working to understand the role of APOBEC3A in blocking HIV infection and is using computational approaches to understand the role of human endogenous retroviruses in gene regulation in the context of HIV.

Miti Saksena, MBBS
Senior Clinical Research Coordinator

Miti joined the Simon Lab in 2020. Prior to her graduate schooling, Miti worked accomplished her medical degree in India and worked as a provider. Currently she leads clinical coordination for the Personalized Virology Initiative.

María Carolina Bermúdez González, MPH
Study Coordinator

Carolina joined the Simon Lab in 2016. She completed her Masters degree in Public Health from the ISMMS. Prior to her Masters degree, Carolina worked as research technician in different laboratories at NYU studying malaria parasites. Currently she coordinates the Personalized Virology Initiative.
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Elena Hirsch
Laboratory Technician

Elena joined the Simon Lab in June of 2018. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology & Brain sciences, she spent the following year working as an intake counselor at the Door, an agency serving young people in New York City. Elena plans to attend osteopathic medical school and pursue a master’s of public health. She is currently a technician for Dr. Simon and primarily does work for the Personalized Virology Initiative.

Former lab members

Lara Manganaro, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Lara joined the Simon lab in October 2012. She completed her Masters degree in Medical Biotechnology, cum laude, from the University of Trieste (Italy). She obtained her PhD degree, cum laude, from the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, working at the Molecular Medicine Lab at ICGEB (Italy). Her first project characterized how CYLD controls HIV transcription in a NF-KB dependent manner. Currently she is characterizing role of SAMHD1 in restricting HIV replication in various CD4+ T-cell lineages in humans.
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Matthew Hernandez, Ph.D.
M.D./Ph.D. graduate student

Matt joined the Simon lab in August 2014. He completed his bachelors degree in biochemistry and molecular biology with honors from Brown University (Providence, RI) in 2011. Prior to ISMMS, Matt worked in the Genomics Core Unit at the Rocky Mountain Labs (NIAID/NIH) (Hamilton, MT) characterizing pathogenic viral/bacterial genomes and transcriptomes. Matt’s project focused on using Next-Generation Sequencing technologies to investigate the impact of APOBEC3-induced hypermutation on HIV diversification and evolution. Moreover, he also worked to understand the non-canonical role of APOBEC3A as a gatekeeper to HIV infection. Matt completed his Ph.D. thesis in May 2018, when he returned to medical school at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Marcel Ooms, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Dr. Ooms earned his PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 2007 studying regulatory RNA elements in the HIV genome. In 2008 he joined Dr. Simon’s laboratory and began his work studying polymorphisms and splice variants of A3H. He is currently studying how HIV adapts to APOBEC3H haplotypes in patients. In addition to being an experienced scientist, Dr. Ooms is also a mentor of many undergraduate and graduate students that have studied and worked in the Simon laboratory.

Michael Letko, Ph.D.
Ph.D. graduate student

Michael joined the Simon lab in January 2012. He earned his bachelors degree in molecular biology, magna cum laude, from Skidmore College(Saratoga Springs, NY) in 2011. His first project characterized the binding site of HIV-2/SIVsmm Vif in APOBEC3G. Currently, he is working with Dr. Ooms from the Simon lab to map HIV-1 Vif – APOBEC3 interfaces using diverse protein variants , forced evolution studies and molecular modeling techniques. In December of 2015, Michael completed his Ph.D. thesis on  APOBEC3 and lentiviral Vif protein interactions.

Álvaro Cuesta-Domínguez, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Alvaro joined the lab in September 2015. He completed his Masters degree in Biochemistry from Universidad Autonomy de Madrid (Spain) and Technical University of Denmark. He obtained his PhD degree, cum laude, from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, working in a joint collaboration project between La Princesa University Hospital and the Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT). He then characterized the oncogenic properties of a novel translocation (BCR-JAK2) found in patients with chronic myeloid and acute lymphoid leukemia. He is currently studying the interface between human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) and HIV, and characterizing its mechanisms and functional consequences under the supervision of Dr. Mulder.

Veronica Iannucci, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Veronica joined the Simon lab in January 2014. She completed her Masters degree in Medical Biotechnology, cum laude, in 2007 from the University Sapienza in Rome (Italy).  She obtained her PhD degree in Medical Science in 2013 from the University of Ghent (Belgium) where she worked on a project focused on the identification of cellular cofactors of HIV replication. Veronica’s project focused on the mechanisms that allow the Human Lymphotropic Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) to counteract the antiviral activity of the APOBEC3G protein.

Sandra Terry, M.S.
Laboratory Technician

Sandra Terry is a technician in the Simon laboratory. She graduated from Pace University with a B.S. in Biology. She then earned her Master’s in Biology from CUNY Brooklyn College. During her time at Brooklyn College, she studied the interactions between retroviral integrase and host proteins. As a member of the Simon laboratory, she works under Dr. Lubbertus Mulder studying the impact of human endogenous retroviruses on the HIV life cycle.

Dionne Argyle, M.S.
Laboratory Technician

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Dionne joined the Simon Lab in December 2015. She completed her Masters degree in Biology from New York University in August 2015. Prior to earning her Masters degree, Dionne worked as a research technician for 2 years at Fordham University (Bronx, NY) in the lab of Dr. Patricio Meneses where she researched the Syndecan family receptors and role they play in HPV infection.

Roland Pene, M.S.
M.S. graduate student

Roland joined the Simon lab in February 2016. In the Simon lab, he compared proviral genetics in HIV infected progressors and elite controllers. He completed his Masters degree in Microbiology in May 2017 from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Ekta Sharma, M.S.
Research Assistant

Ekta joined the Simon lab in October 2014. She completed her bachelors degree in biotechnology from the University of Pune (India) in 2010 and completed her Masters degree in bioinformatics from NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering (New York, NY).  Prior to joining the lab, her research focused on engineering co-polymers for drug delivery and on de novo transcriptomic assembly in Terebra anilis for characterizing peptides. Ekta worked with Matt from the Simon Lab to characterize structural variation in immune gene regions.

Marsha Dillon-White, M.S.
Laboratory Technician

Marsha joined the Simon lab in September 2012. She completed her bachelors degree in biology and chemistry, summa cum laude, from Adelphi University (Garden City, NY) in 2007. She completed her Masters degree in biology, summa cum laude, from Adelphi University in 2012. Marsha served as the Simon lab manager from 2013-2016.

Ralph Fernandez
Laboratory Technician

Ralph joined the Simon Lab in July of 2018. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry with Honors from Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pa.) in May 2018. As an Associate Researcher he is responsible for basic laboratory maintenance, inventory, and assisting graduate students and fellow researchers in their projects. Ralph plans to matriculate to medical school in August of 2019.