Profile of a Pathology Faculty Member

Pathology Faculty Photo

Cynthia Ann Derdeyn, PhD

HIV Pathogenesis

Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Other Appointments/Positions

Scientist, Emory Vaccine Center

Affiliate Scientist, Yerkes National Primate Research Center

Pathology Division(s):
Experimental Pathology
Email Address:


B.S.   Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, 1982 - 1987
Ph.D.   Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, 1987 - 1994

Research Interests:

- HIV/AIDS The extraordinary genetic diversity of global human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strains, especially within the envelope (Env) glycoproteins, is a force to be reckoned with regards to vaccine design. However most current strategies simply ignore this problem by focusing on one or a few viral strains. It has also become painfully clear that vaccines designed to elicit cell-mediated immunity without an antibody-inducing component are not protective or beneficial, bringing the conundrum of how to elicit broadly protective neutralizing antibodies against HIV-1 Env back into the forefront. In our research, we have continued to focus on individuals in Africa that are infected with the globally predominant HIV-1 subtypes, such as A and C. We have recently begun to uncover differences between the HIV-1 subtypes within the Env glycoproteins, which are highly variable in sequence and are the major targets for neutralizing antibodies. These differences have the potential to impact the selection and design of vaccine immunogens. Our major approach is to determine how subtype C HIV-1 is neutralized by autologous antibodies in Zambian individuals, and how the virus subsequently escapes, in the context of the viral diversity in which these processes occur. Remarkably, these processes remain poorly understood. We do this by analyzing in detail samples collected longitudinally from newly infected individuals in Zambia, from acute/early infection into the chronic phase, to understand how the hyper-variable and structural domains of the Env glycoproteins evolve as the immune response struggles to contain viral replication. We are also generating monoclonal antibodies from these patients, which will allow for a more precise reconstruction of the early events involved in neutralization and viral escape. Recently, we have extended these same approaches to identify chronically subtype C infected patients that produce neutralizing antibodies with cross-neutralizing activity against heterologous Envs from other subjects, and will define the 'conserved' neutralizing antibody targets in these individuals. We have also characterized the neutralizing antibody and B cell response in a natural host for simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the sooty mangabey, leading to a better understanding of how this African nonhuman primate avoids AIDS-like disease despite high levels of virus replication. Collectively, these studies will provide (i) much needed information about how a vaccine might induce a protective neutralizing antibody response, and (ii) a better understanding of the pathogenic consequences of neutralizing antibodies, which force the virus to diversify from a homogeneous population after infection to a highly heterogeneous, complex viral quasispecies that is unique to each patient.

Honors / Awards:

  • Permanent member, NIH/NIAID Study Section, AIDS Immunology and Pathogenesis, 2008-2012
  • Scholar Award, amfAR, 2000-2002
  • John R. Durant Excellence in Cancer Research, 1998
  • John R. Durant Excellence in Cancer Research, 1997

Selected/Most Recent Publications:

Click here to view all publications

Published and Accepted Research Articles -

  • R.M. Lynch, T.Y. Shen, S. Gnanakaran, and C.A. Derdeyn. (2009). Appreciating HIV-1 Diversity: Subtype Differences in Env. AIDS Res. Hum. Retroviruses: in press.
  • R.E. Haaland, P.A. Hawkins, J. Salazar-Gonzalez, A. Johnson, A. Tichacek, E. Karita, O. Manigart, J. Mulenga, B.F. Keele, G.M. Shaw, B.H. Hahn, S.A. Allen, C.A. Derdeyn, and E. Hunter. (2009) Inflammatory genital infections mitigate a severe genetic bottleneck in heterosexual transmission of subtype A and C HIV-1. PLoS Pathog. 5(1):Epub.
  • J. Salazar-Gonzalez, K.T. Pham, E. Bailes, M.G. Salazar, B.F. Keele, C.A. Derdeyn, P. Farmer, E. Hunter, S. Allen, J. Anderson, R. Swanstrom, G.S. Athreya, B.T.M. Korber, G.M. Shaw, P.M. Sharp, and B.H. Hahn. (2008) Deciphering HIV-1 Transmission and Early Envelope Diversification by Single Genome Amplification and Sequencing. J. Virol 82(8): 3952-70.
  • P.A. Goepfert, W. Lumm, P. Farmer, A. Prendergrast, P. Matthews, J. Carlson, C.A. Derdeyn, J. Tang, R.A. Kaslow, K. Yusim, D. Heckerman, J.Mulenga, S. Allen, P. Goulder, and E. Hunter. (2008) Donor HIV-1 Escape through Gag Reduces Viral Fitness after New Host Transmission. J. Exp. Med. 205 (5): 1009-17.
  • C.A. Derdeyn and E. Hunter. 2008. Viral Characteristics of Transmitted HIV. Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS 3 (1):16-21.
  • R. Rong, S. Gnanakaran, J.M. Decker, J.N. Sfakianos, F. Bibollet-Ruche, J.L. Mokili, M. Muldoon, J. Mulenga, S. Allen, B.H. Hahn, G.M. Shaw, J.L. Blackwell, E. Hunter, B.T. Korber, and C.A. Derdeyn. (2007) Unique Mutational Patterns in the Envelope a2 Amphipathic Helix are Associated with Resistance to Autologous Neutralization of Subtype C HIV-1. J. Virol: 81 (11): 5658-68.
  • S. Gnanakaran, D. Lang, M. Daniels, T. Battacharya, C.A. Derdeyn, and B.T. Korber. (2007) Clade Specific Differences in HIV-1: Diversity and Correlations in the C3-V4 Regions of gp120. J. Virol: 81 (9): 4886-91.
  • R. Rong, F. Bibollet-Ruche, J. Mulenga, S. Allen, J.L. Blackwell, and C.A. Derdeyn. (2007) The Role of V1V2 and ther HIV-1 Envelope Domains in Resistance to Autologous Neutralization During Clade C HIV-1 Infection. J. Virol. 81 (3): 1350-1359.
  • M.A. Brockman, A. Schneidewind, M. Lahaie, A. Schmidt, T. Miura, I. DeSouza, F. Ryvkin, C.A. Derdeyn, S. Allen, E. Hunter, J. Mulenga, P.A. Goepfert, B.D. Walker, and T.M. Allen. (2007) Escape and Compensation from Early HLA-B57-mediated CTL Pressure on HIV-1 Gag Alters Capsid Interactions with Cyclophilin A. J. Virol. 81(22): 12608-18.
  • M. Li, J.F. Salazar-Gonzalez, C.A. Derdeyn, L. Morris, C. Williamson, J.E. Robinson, J.M. Decker, Y. Li, M.G. Salazar, V.R. Polonis, K. Mlisana, S.A. Karim, K. Hong, K.M. Greene, M. Bilska, J. Zhou, S. Allen, E. Chomba, J. Mulenga, C. Vwalika, F. Gao, M. Zhang, B.T. Korber, E. Hunter, B.H. Hahn, and D.C. Montefiori. (2006) Genetic and Neutralization Properties of Acute and Early Subtype C HIV-1 Molecular Env Clones from Heterosexually Acquired Infections in Southern Africa. Journal of Virology 80 (23): 11776-90.
  • B. Li, J.M. Decker, R.W. Johnson, F. Bibollet-Ruche, X. Wei, J. Mulenga, S. Allen, E. Hunter, B.H. Hahn, G.M. Shaw, J.L. Blackwell, and C.A. Derdeyn. (2006) Evidence for Potent Autologous Neutralizing Antibody Titers and Compact Envs in Early Infection with Subtype C HIV-1. Journal of Virology 80 (11):5211-5218.
  • R.W. Johnson, S. Sunay, J. Mulenga, S. Allen, and C.A. Derdeyn. (2006). Real-time PCR Quantitation of Subtype C HIV DNA in a Zambian Discordant Couple Cohort. AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses May 22(5): 438-44.
  • C.A. Derdeyn and G. Silvestri. 2005. Viral and Host Factors in the Pathogenesis of HIV Infection. Current Opinion in Immunology (17): 1-8.
  • C.A. Derdeyn, J.M. Decker, F. Bibollet-Ruche, J. L. Mokili, M. Muldoon, S.A. Denham, M.L. Heil, J.Y. Lee, F. Kasolo, R. Musonda, B.H. Hahn, G.M. Shaw, B. T. Korber, S. Allen and E. Hunter. (2004) Envelope-Constrained, Neutralization-Sensitive HIV-1 Following Heterosexual Transmission. Science 303(5666):2019-2022.
  • M.L. Heil, J.M. Decker, D.T. Chen, J.N. Sfakianos, G.M. Shaw, E. Hunter, and C.A. Derdeyn. (2004) Determinants of HIV-1 Baseline Sensitivity to the Fusion Inhibitors Enfuvirtide and T-649 Reside Outside of the Peptide Interaction Site. Journal of Virology 78 (14): 7582-7589.

Book Chapters -

  • C.A. Derdeyn and E. Hunter. 2004. Entry Inhibitors and Beyond. In: HIV Chemotherapy: A Critical Review, Ed. Sal Butera, Horizon Scientific Press, Norfolk, U.K.

Books Edited and Written -

  • Entry Inhibitors in HIV Therapy. Eds. J.D. Reeves and C.A. Derdeyn. In the Milestones in Drug Therapy series, Birkhauser Publishing, Switzerland