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Stephen Barr

Stephen Barr

Western University


Dr. Barr obtained his PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Calgary, studying a family of antioxidant proteins called Peroxiredoxins in the tropical parasite called Leishmania. His research provided a better understanding of how intracellular pathogens such as Leishmania survive inside of macrophages, which are the cells normally designed to kill these pathogens. After his PhD, Dr. Barr traveled to Philadelphia as a Postdoctoral Fellow to work with Dr. Rick Bushman at The University of Pennsylvania. There he studied the molecular interactions between the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and host cellular genomes. His research provided a better understanding of how HIV permantently integrates into the genome of its host cells; a process that contributes to life-long infection. Near the end of his time with Dr. Bushman, he discovered a novel human protein called TRIM22 that inhibits HIV replication by trapping the virus inside of cells. He took this project to the laboratory of Dr. Smiley at the University of Alberta to utilize the expertise of Dr. Jim Smiley to better understand the mechanism of how TRIM22 traps HIV inside of cells. Near the end of his time in Dr. Smiley’s laboratory he discovered another novel human protein called HERC5 that also inhibited HIV replication. Dr. Barr took this project to Western as an independent investigator where his team unlocked the novel mechanisms by which this interesting protein blocks HIV replication. Currently, Dr. Barr is a molecular virologist at Western in the department of Microbiology and Immunology where his team continues to unlock the mysteries of TRIM22, HERC5 and HIV. It is their goal to exploit the powerful and natural activities of HERC5 and TRIM22 to help block HIV replication and allow our immune system to get the upperhand in clearing HIV infection. Dr. Barr’s team also recently discovered an exciting new way that HIV integrates into the human genome. This research hopes to uncover a neverbefore seen mechanism of how HIV establishes and maintains latency, which is one of the biggest obstacles in curing HIV/AIDS. Their work also has potential implications in the design of next-generation retroviral-based gene therapy vectors.

Research Interest