Biomarkers & Advanced Technologies Core

To support the overarching goal of the ERC-CFAR to end the HIV epidemic, the Biomarker and Advanced Technology Core (BATC) provides state-of-the-art technologies, services and consultations to enhance our understanding of HIV biology and mechanisms and accelerate the development of novel approaches for prevention and cure. The BATC supports implementation research to improve the effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and treatment as prevention (TasP).

The BATC infrastructure supports established and early stage HIV/AIDS researchers as well as new investigators who are expanding their research to include HIV/AIDS-related studies at Einstein, Rockefeller, and CUNY. The leadership provides unique consultation services that leverage their experience to identify opportunities within and outside the BATC. The BATC provides cutting-edge services for our investigators and members of the HIV and Mental Health Scientific Working Group to accomplish their research, mentors and trains the next generation of HIV investigators, recruits established investigators into HIV research, and forges new collaborations across Einstein, Rockefeller and CUNY and other regional academic centers.

The Aims of the BATC are:

Aim 1: To provide investigators with technological support to examine and evaluate novel approaches to prevent, treat and cure HIV infection and to characterize HIV pathogenesis. The BATC will provide a wide array of services, with particular emphasis on biomarker assays and measurement of antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence, which are critical for PrEP, PEP and TasP studies. The BATC will analyze fluids from in vitro (cell and tissue culture), in vivo (animal models) and clinical samples for quantification of immune molecules linked to HIV pathogenesis, HIV risk and comorbidities using multiplex and ELISA assays. The BATC will also provide assays to quantify antiretroviral drug levels (pharmacokinetics), and antiretroviral drug activity (pharmacodynamics) using mass spectrometry, and functional antiviral studies. One of our unique resources is the ability for the BATC to provide peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and specific subpopulations of cells (monocytes, macrophages) isolated from human leukopaks, including samples obtained in collaboration with the Clinical and Translational Science Core (CTSC) from patients from Montefiore and Rockefeller living with or at risk for HIV infection with defined clinical characteristics. This service supports, for example, studies on the latent reservoir. The BATC will also identify and import cutting edge technologies to provide new opportunities to investigators such as an ex vivo blood-brain model for evaluating virus or factor entry into the brain.

Aim 2: To provide investigators with state-of-the-art technologies in the Protein Sciences to support a wide range of mechanistic studies central to understanding HIV biology and treatment. The BATC will continue to provide state-of-the-art infrastructure for the production of critical protein reagents to support development of novel biologics for HIV eradication, protein antigens to study cellular and humoral immunity, and large quantities of materials for structural and biochemical characterization of proteins and assemblies critical for HIV infection and life cycle. These efforts rely on our well-established bacterial, insect and mammalian expression platforms. The BATC continues to provide unique cell-based assays for characterizing receptor-ligand interactions, including those relevant to novel discoveries linked to antibody dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC), a critical aspect of vaccines and immunotherapies.

Aim 3. To implement and evaluate the utility and feasibility of new technologies for inclusion within BATC. In response to the ERC-CFAR membership, the BATC has added several new services including bioinformatics support for transcriptomics, and additional biomarker assays for PrEP and ART adherence. It is evaluating additional new technologies to expand coverage of ERC-CFAR efforts and to enable increased synergies among Cores and with the SWG. New technologies being evaluated include expanded metabolomics/small molecule quantitation, microbiome analysis and proteomics. The BATC also provides extensive consultation and services to enable investigators to access new technologies not provided within the BATC, but which are available at other institutions.

For further information or to access the Biomarker and Advanced Technologies Core services, please contact Drs. Berman , Almo, or Kreuger.