Susan Fiscus, PhD

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Investigator in Clinical Sites Core: UNC Repository

Susan A. Fiscus, PhD is a Professor in the Departments of Microbiology & Immunology and of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. She is also the Director of the UNC Clinical Retrovirology Laboratory and Director of the UNC CFAR Virology Core. During the past 17 years under Dr. Fiscus' supervision, the UNC Retrovirology Laboratory has performed virologic testing for over 300 adult and pediatric studies, both nationally and internationally.

The focus of much of her research has been in the prevention of HIV transmission, both vertically from mother to child and sexually. Dr. Fiscus’ lab has participated in several clinical trials in Malawi to prevent mother to child transmission. Another important component of the laboratory has been the development and evaluation of less expensive and technologically less complex methods to diagnose infants and to monitor patients on antiretroviral therapy. The lab has evaluated the use of dried blood spots and dried plasma spots for the diagnosis of HIV infection in infants as well as for monitoring HIV viral loads. They have also assessed simpler, less expensive alternatives to HIV RNA assays for monitoring.

Perhaps some of the most important contributions of the Retrovirology Lab have been in the public health arena where the investigators’ work has formed the basis for the establishment of an entirely new protocol for testing HIV infection in the state of North Carolina. The laboratory piloted a pooling and RNA testing program in 2001 that has proven so successful it has been adopted by the state of North Carolina. Dr. Fiscus and her colleagues have successfully transferred this technology to their research site in Lilongwe, Malawi. This strategy will be used in the CHAVI to identify cases of acute HIV infection.