Beatrice H. Hahn

faculty photo
Professor of Medicine
Department: Medicine
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
409 Johnson Pavilion
3610 Hamilton Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-746-8515
Fax: 215-573-8976
Lab: 215-573-7663
University of Munich, Medical School, Munich, Germany, 1981.
Doctorate (Medicine)
University of Munich, Medical School, Munich, Germany, 1982.
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Description of Research Expertise

My laboratory has had a long-standing interest in elucidating the origins and evolution of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses, and in studying HIV/SIV gene function and disease mechanisms from an evolutionary perspective. Characterizing the evolutionary relationships of simian immunodeficiency viruses infecting different non-human primate species in sub-Saharan Africa, we found that Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) – one of the most devastating infectious diseases to have emerged in recent history – was the result of cross-species infections of humans by lentiviruses of primate origin. Specifically, we discovered that HIV-1 resulted from cross-species infections of SIVcpz and SIVgor naturally infecting chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), respectively, while HIV-2 resulted from transmissions of SIVsmm infecting sooty mangabeys (Cercocebus atys). Moreover, we found that these viruses had entered the human population on multiple occasions, although only one of these transfers had spawned the HIV-1 pandemic. As we now know from molecular clock analyses, the main group of HIV-1, which has afflicted more than 70 million people and caused more than 30 million deaths worldwide, was transmitted to humans in the first third of the 20th century.

To further characterize the primate reservoirs of HIV-1 and HIV-2, we developed non-invasive methods of SIV detection and characterization. These novel (urine and fecal based) methods allowed us to pinpoint the geographic origin of epidemic HIV-2, trace the source of pandemic (group M) and non-pandemic (group N) HIV-1 to geographically isolated chimpanzee communities in southern Cameroon, and discover in wild gorilla populations viruses closely related to HIV-1 group O. We also performed the first natural history study of SIVcpz in Gombe National Park, determining the prevalence, transmission patterns and pathogenicity of this virus in both habituated and non-habituated chimpanzee communities. Combining virological, ecological, behavioral and necropsy data from over a decade, we found that SIVcpz, like HIV-1, causes significantly increased mortality and AIDS-like immunopathology in wild chimpanzees. We also found that in at least one instance high SIVcpz prevalence rates contributed to the decline of a chimpanzee community. This was a surprising finding, since until then it had been assumed for a long time that SIVcpz was non-pathogenic in its natural host.

Most recently, we have employed our non-invasive detection methods to determine the origin of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Screening ~3,000 ape fecal samples from 60 field sites in central Africa, we found Plasmodium spp. infection in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), but not in eastern gorillas (Gorilla beringei) or bonobos (Pan paniscus). Ape Plasmodium infections were highly prevalent, widely distributed, and almost always comprised of mixed parasite species. Phylogenetic analyses of full-length Plasmodium mitochondrial sequences revealed that human P. falciparum is of gorilla origin, and not as previously reported of chimpanzee, bonobo or ancient human origin. Moreover, just like for HIV-1, we found that pandemic P. falciparum had resulted from a single cross-species transmission event.
In the future, we will continue to work on emerging infectious diseases and build basic and translational research programs in global health. Current projects involve:

1. Studies of HIV-1 transmission. We have devised a way to infer the nucleotide sequence of HIV-1 strains that are responsible for initiating productive infection. We are interested in determining whether these transmitted/founder viruses have unique biological properties that render them uniquely suited for mucosal transmission.

2. Studies of ape Plasmodium infections. We will investigate whether African apes represent a recurrent source of human infection by characterizing potential ape reservoirs and using 454 sequencing to detect ape Plasmodium in humans at risk for such infections.

3. Studies of SIVcpz infection of wild chimpanzees. We are interested in the impact of SIVcpz infection on chimpanzee population dynamics and will continue our natural history studies in Gombe National Park and other sites in Tanzania.

4. Studies in HIV vaccine development. We are interested in examining new platforms for HIV immunogen design and delivery.

Members of the Hahn Lab

Current members of the Hahn lab, with the month and the year they joined the lab, their previous institution, and a brief description of their projects (updated summer 2011):

Research Assistant Professors:
Weimin Liu, M.D.
(06/02) Plasmodium infections of wild apes
Yingying Li, M.D. (06/97) Molecular epidemiology of SIVcpz in wild-living chimpanzees

Research Associate:
Gerald H. Learn, Ph.D.
(03/08) Molecular evolution of HIV/SIV and ape Plasmodium infections

Laboratory Supervisor:
Erica L.H. Parrish

Nicholas F. Parrish
(8/09) B.S., Emory University. Biological phenotype of transmitted founder HIV-1
Shilpa S. Iyer (8/10) B.S., Fergusson College, M.S. University of Pune, Pune, India. Fitness costs associated with HIV-1 immune escape
Sesh Sundararaman (3/11) B.S., Williams College. Great ape reservoirs of human malaria.

Miguel Ramirez
Andrew G. Smith (07/11)

Former postdocs:
Lilly Kong, D.V.M.
, Chief Scientific Officer, PrimeraDx
Scott Michael, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Florida Gulf Coast University
John Kappes, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Alabama
Feng Gao, M.D., Professor, Duke University
Thomas Fletcher, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Immugen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Sundarasamy Mahalingam, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India
David Robertson, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Brandon Keele, Ph.D., Senior Scientist SAIC-Frederick, NCI-Frederick

Former students:
Yuexia Li, Ph.D.
, Senior Director of Quality Systems, Tetracore, Inc
Stanley Trask, M.S., Research Scientist, Affymetix
Marcelo Soares, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Mario L. Santiago, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Colorado
Rebecca Rudicell, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Vaccine Research Center, NIH

Selected Publications

Moeller Andrew H, Shilts Meghan, Li Yingying, Rudicell Rebecca S, Lonsdorf Elizabeth V, Pusey Anne E, Wilson Michael L, Hahn Beatrice H, Ochman Howard: SIV-Induced Instability of the Chimpanzee Gut Microbiome. Cell Host & Microbe 14(3): 340-5, Sep 2013.

Ayouba Ahidjo, Akoua-Koffi Chantal, Calvignac-Spencer Sébastien, Esteban Amandine, Locatelli Sabrina, Li Hui, Li Yingying, Hahn Beatrice H, Delaporte Eric, Leendertz Fabian H, Peeters Martine: Evidence for continuing cross-species transmission of SIVsmm to humans: characterization of a new HIV-2 lineage in rural Côte d'Ivoire. AIDS (London, England) 27(15): 2488-91, Sep 2013.

Li Hui, Blair Lily, Chen Yalu, Learn Gerald, Pfafferott Katja, John Mina, Bhattacharya Tanmoy, Hahn Beatrice H, Mallal Simon, Shaw George M, Bar Katharine J: Molecular Mechanisms of HIV-1 Prophylaxis Failure Revealed by Single Genome Sequencing. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 208(10): 1598-603, Sep 2013.

Letko Michael, Silvestri Guido, Hahn Beatrice H, Bibollet-Ruche Frederick, Gokcumen Omer, Simon Viviana, Ooms Marcel: Vif proteins from diverse primate lentiviral lineages use a same binding site in APOBEC3G. Journal of Virology 87(21): 11861-71, Aug 2013.

Moeller Andrew H, Peeters Martine, Ndjango Jean-Basco, Li Yingying, Hahn Beatrice H, Ochman Howard: Sympatric chimpanzees and gorillas harbor convergent gut microbial communities. Genome Research 23(10): 1715-20, Aug 2013.

Etienne Lucie, Hahn Beatrice H, Sharp Paul M, Matsen Frederick A, Emerman Michael: Gene loss and adaptation to hominids underlie the ancient origin of HIV-1. Cell Host & Microbe 14(1): 85-92, Jul 2013.

Prado-Martinez Javier, Sudmant Peter H, Kidd Jeffrey M, Li Heng, Kelley Joanna L, Lorente-Galdos Belen, Veeramah Krishna R, Woerner August E, O'Connor Timothy D, Santpere Gabriel, Cagan Alexander, Theunert Christoph, Casals Ferran, Laayouni Hafid, Munch Kasper, Hobolth Asger, Halager Anders E, Malig Maika, Hernandez-Rodriguez Jessica, Hernando-Herraez Irene, Prüfer Kay, Pybus Marc, Johnstone Laurel, Lachmann Michael, Alkan Can, Twigg Dorina, Petit Natalia, Baker Carl, Hormozdiari Fereydoun, Fernandez-Callejo Marcos, Dabad Marc, Wilson Michael L, Stevison Laurie, Camprubí Cristina, Carvalho Tiago, Ruiz-Herrera Aurora, Vives Laura, Mele Marta, Abello Teresa, Kondova Ivanela, Bontrop Ronald E, Pusey Anne, Lankester Felix, Kiyang John A, Bergl Richard A, Lonsdorf Elizabeth, Myers Simon, Ventura Mario, Gagneux Pascal, Comas David, Siegismund Hans, Blanc Julie, Agueda-Calpena Lidia, Gut Marta, Fulton Lucinda, Tishkoff Sarah A, Mullikin James C, Wilson Richard K, Gut Ivo G, Gonder Mary Katherine, Ryder Oliver A, Hahn Beatrice H, Navarro Arcadi, Akey Joshua M, Bertranpetit Jaume, Reich David, Mailund Thomas, Schierup Mikkel H, Hvilsom Christina, Andrés Aida M, Wall Jeffrey D, Bustamante Carlos D, Hammer Michael F, Eichler Evan E, Marques-Bonet Tomas: Great ape genetic diversity and population history. Nature 499(7459): 471-5, Jul 2013.

Wojcechowskyj Jason A, Didigu Chuka A, Lee Jessica Y, Parrish Nicholas F, Sinha Rohini, Hahn Beatrice H, Bushman Frederic D, Jensen Shane T, Seeholzer Steven H, Doms Robert W: Quantitative phosphoproteomics reveals extensive cellular reprogramming during HIV-1 entry. Cell Host & Microbe 13(5): 613-23, May 2013.

Lopker Michael, Easlick Juliet, Sterrett Sarah, Decker Julie M, Barbian Hannah, Learn Gerald, Keele Brandon F, Robinson James E, Li Hui, Hahn Beatrice H, Shaw George M, Bar Katharine J: Heterogeneity in Neutralization Sensitivities of Viruses Comprising the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus SIVsmE660 Isolate and Vaccine Challenge Stock. Journal of Virology 87(10): 5477-92, May 2013.

Ping Li-Hua, Joseph Sarah B, Anderson Jeffrey A, Abrahams Melissa-Rose, Salazar-Gonzalez Jesus F, Kincer Laura P, Treurnicht Florette K, Arney Leslie, Ojeda Suany, Zhang Ming, Keys Jessica, Potter E Lake, Chu Haitao, Moore Penny, Salazar-Gonzalez Maria, Iyer Shilpa, Jabara Cassandra, Kirchherr Jennifer, Mapanje Clement, Ngandu Nobubelo, Seoighe Cathal, Hoffman Irving, Gao Feng, Tang Yuyang, Labranche Celia, Lee Benhur, Saville Andrew, Vermeulen Marion, Fiscus Susan, Morris Lynn, Abdool Karim Salim, Haynes Barton F, Shaw George M, Korber Bette T, Hahn Beatrice H, Cohen Myron S, Montefiori David, Williamson Carolyn, Swanstrom Ronald: Comparison of Viral Env Proteins From Acute and Chronic Infections of Subtype C Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Identifies Differences In Glycosylation and CCR5 Utilization and Suggests A New Strategy For Immunogen Design. Journal of Virology 87(13): 7218-33, Apr 2013.

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Last updated: 12/06/2013
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