Project: Cell based amplification of low Viral loads to elucidate viral reservoirs in the CNS using an engineered cell line - Pillay and her team were interested in understanding HIV in the central nervous system. The brain is thought to be a reservoir site for HIV infection in the face of antiretroviral therapy (ART). The lab had developed a technique to detect the cellular source of CNS derived HIV based on cellular markers present on the viral envelope. Virus containing CD26 was found to be derived from CD4+ T cells, while virus containing CD36 was found to be derived from macrophages. Pillay’s project involved the development of an engineered cell line that expresses the CCR5 gene and HIV Envelope gene. This cell line wouldl be used in a viral amplification assay, designed to amplify HIV derived from the cerebral spinal fluid based on their host cell markers. Her research centered on determining the type of reservoir responsible for HIV persistence in the brain, during antiretroviral therapy.