Dr. Ling is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine and the Tulane National Primate Research Center. Research programs in the Ling Laboratory focus on investigation of persistent HIV tissue reservoirs and development of prophylactic and therapeutic strategies for prevention and cure of HIV-1 infection in humans using a model of simian immunodeficiency virus or simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SIV/SHIV) infection in nonhuman primates (NHP).
Primary areas of interests are:
- Identification of tissue reservoirs in fully suppressed SIV-infected rhesus macaques of Chinese origin (chRM). The SIV/chRM/cART model was established using combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) for full suppression of peripheral blood viremia. Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), especially in the large intestine, was found to be a major reservoir. In contrast, various regions of the brain showed different levels of viral infection. Currently, the Ling lab uses barcoded virus to identify specific cellular reservoirs in anatomical locations such as the central nervous system (CNS).
- Development and usage of novel approaches to search for viral eradication and cure. The novel CRISPA-Cas9 system or Rev-dependent vector carrying therapeutic genes are used to target SIV-infected cells for eradication.
- Association between immune activation and viral persistence in GALT and CNS.
- HIV and aging in a NHP model.
- Investigation of immune protection of novel prophylactic vaccines against SIV infection in the NHP model, and also immune responses in macaques of long-term nonprogressors (LTNP) and elite controllers (EC) that closely mimic LTNP and EC of HIV-1 infection in humans.
Her research projects are funded by NIH R01 grants. She serves on grant review panels of the NIH and other organizations. Dr. Ling actively participates in training Tulane’s graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.