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Lisa M. Frenkel, MD

Pathogenesis Specialty Lab Director

Dr. Lisa Frenkel is an academic physician scientist. Her laboratory has performed clinical, translational and basic laboratory research, and mentored scientist of various ages and stages, from high school to full professors.

Dr. Frenkel’s laboratory started with studies of herpes and HIV drug resistance, and more recently HIV persistence. When studying transmitted resistance from HIV-infected mothers to their children, they noted a series of errors that refuted the concept of transient HIV infection occurring in infants (Frenkel et al. Science, 1998; PMID9582120). Their findings in this study cemented the importance of meticulous Laboratory Quality Assurance.

Past work in the Frenkel Lab suggested (J Virol 2005, PMID16014925) and later provided proof that proliferating cells have a major role in sustaining the HIV reservoir despite effective treatment; (Science 2014, PMID25011556), and in fueling persistent low-level viremia and rebound viremia following ART suspension (PLoS Pathog 2020, PMID32841299). They described that HIV is integrated disproportionately into genes that control immune functions, the cell cycle, cancers or pathways controlling T-regulatory cells (J Infect Dis 2017, PMID28520966), which led to projects investigating HIV reservoirs effects on CD4 cell function (J Immunol 2022 PMID35264460) and current projects focused on (1) integrated virus effects on high-risk HPV cervical infections, and (2) immune tolerance in HIV infected infants.

Their research on HIV drug resistance has defined reservoirs and effects of mutant codons (Clin Infect Dis 2010, PMID20377404) and the utility of point mutation assays in screening to diagnose HIV drug resistance (Lancet HIV 2019, PMID32386719). Their current studies aim to (1) define the mutant codons associated with failure of dolutegravir-based treatments, (2) develop inexpensive assays to detect these mutations in low-resource settings and (EBioMedicine 2019 PMID31767540 and AIDS 2020 PMID32205723), and (3) define the risk of genotypic HIV resistance for mother-to-child HIV transmission and treatment outcomes (Clin Infect Dis 2021, PMID34467974).

In 1989, Frenkel joined the NIH Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials Group (PACTG) / International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent AIDS Clinical Trials (IMPAACT). Frenkel led Phase 1, 2, and 3 clinical trials. She served as the PACTG/IMPAACT site PI from 1994-2014 and served terms on the PACTG and IMPAACT Executive and Scientific Oversight Committees. In 1999, Frenkel initiated HIV drug resistance testing for the University of Washington’s Clinical Laboratory, which she continues to supervise. She has served on WHO HIV Drug Resistance Advisory panels for 25+ years.

The Frenkel Laboratory has served an IMPAACT Virology Developmental Laboratory since 2006 and is the primary site for US-based HIV-DR genotyping and serves as the international reference lab for IMPAACT studies. The Frenkel Laboratory provides VQA-/CLIA-certified HIV-DR assays to the IMPAACT Network.