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Luis Montaner, D.V.M., D.Phil., M.Sc.

Luis J. Montaner, D.V.M., D.Phil.


The Montaner Laboratory



Vice President, Scientific Operations

Associate Director for Shared Resources, The Wistar Institute Cancer Center

Herbert Kean, M.D., Family Endowed Chair Professor; Director, HIV-1 Immunopathogenesis Laboratory and Leader, HIV Research Program, Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center;

Immunology, Microenvironment & Metastasis Program, The Wistar Institute Cancer Center

About the Scientist

Montaner studies the mechanisms of disease in HIV-1 infection, and explores new ways to boost the natural function of the immune system in order to combat infection or viral-associated disease.

Montaner obtained his D.V.M., Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University in 1989, and his D.Phil. in Experimental Pathology at University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K., in 1995.  He joined The Wistar Institute in 1995 as an assistant professor and was promoted to professor in 2007.

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The Montaner Laboratory

At Wistar, the Montaner laboratory focuses on immune system-based research using laboratory models of virus infection, animal models of infection and or cancer, and clinical cohort studies to provide a clinic-to-bench research program that informs new strategies to combat HIV and or cancer.  The Montaner lab is also a leading center for a Martin Delaney Collaboratory focused on HIV cure-directed research (see  Patient and animal-based collaborative studies —and thus, their impact—extend from Philadelphia to multiple US states for coast-to-coast, Puerto Rico, Mexico, South America, and Southern Africa, and focus on:

  • identifying new strategies to reverse mechanisms of immunodeficiency caused by viral infection and/or cancer processes via testing new immune enhancing products.
  • exploring new ways to augment HIV-1 control beyond current therapies in order to achieve durable remission and or permanent control of infection without the need for continued antiretroviral therapy. 
  • understanding the natural ability of our immune system to respond to viruses and comparing that to the immune response of a rare subset of people who are exposed to—yet uninfected by—HIV-1 or are infected yet retain an inherent ability to control their HIV-1 infection.

Watch this video to learn more about HIV cure research.


Research Assistant Professor

Ian Tietjen, Ph.D.

Senior Staff Scientists

Livio Azzoni, M.D., Ph.D.
Emmanouil Papasavvas, Ph.D.
Costin Tomescu, Ph.D.

Staff Scientist

Zhe Yuan, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Jocelyn Rivera Ortiz, Ph.D.
Xue Yang, Ph.D.

Visiting Scientist

Krystal Colon-Rivera, Ph.D.

Research Assistants

Matthew Fair
Akwasi Gyampoh
Colin Hart
Jessicamarie Morris
Emery Register
Brian Ross
Amanda Sciorillo
Carlos Carmona

Clinical Coordinator

Ken Lynn, R.N.

BSL-3 Laboratory Manager

Agnes Mackiewicz

Program Manager

Beth Peterson

Administrative Coordinator

Donna Maiuri-Giles


The Montaner lab pursues a variety of projects at any given time related to the understanding and eventual cure of the HIV-1 virus.

Current Projects

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View a list of current projects being pursued by the Montaner lab and its many collaborators.

Previous Projects

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View a list of previous projects pursued by the Montaner lab.

Staff Highlight: Ian Tietjen, Ph.D., Focuses on Bringing Traditional Medicine into Modern Research

Ian_Lab Final

Ian Tietjen, Ph.D., focuses on mechanisms of viral pathogenesis, and on drug discovery and development. He uses cell biology, genetics, and high-throughput chemical screening techniques to investigate the molecular properties of HIV reservoirs in addition to influenza and coronavirus replication and spread. 

Tietjen collaborates with local communities, medicinal plant healers, and other knowledge keepers to sustainably and ethically document and determine the bioactivities of traditional medicines used in Southern Africa, Canada and elsewhere. 

Tietjen joined Wistar as a research assistant professor in the HIV Research Program in January 2020 and he is the head of the Small Molecule Discovery and Pharmacognosy Group. He was previously an assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences in Vancouver, Canada, and has worked as a group leader in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Cardiome Pharma Corp. and a senior scientist at Xenon Pharmaceuticals.

Click here to see Tietjen's select publications.

Small Molecule Discovery and Pharmacognosy Group

The Small Molecule Discovery and Pharmacognosy Group works with researchers, traditional healers, and other knowledge keepers who are interested in identifying and elucidating the molecular and biomedical properties of naturally produced chemical compounds and medicinal plants. The group primarily focuses on potential therapies for HIV, coronaviruses, influenza, and other infectious pathogens but also supports studies for cancer, metabolic diseases and other illnesses. We also provide assay development, laboratory training and instruction, and community engagement expertise to meaningfully work with local and Indigenous communities with traditional medicinal knowledge. 

Individuals interested in working with the Small Molecule Discovery and Pharmacognosy Group can contact Ian Tietjen for more information at

The mission of the BEAT-HIV Collaboratory is to define the most effective way to combine immunotherapy regimens to cure HIV.

Learn more about BEAT-HIV

Lab Events and Photos

Montaner Lab Event Photos

Selected Publications

Abdel-Mohsen, M., Kuri-Cervantes, L., Grau-Exposito, J., Spivak, A.M., Nell, R.A., Tomescu, C., Vadrevu, S.K., Giron, L.B., Serra-Peinado, C., Genescà, M., et al. "CD32 is expressed on cells with transcriptionally active HIV but does not enrich for HIV DNA in resting T cells." Sci Transl Med. 2018 Apr 18;10(437). pii: eaar6759. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aar6759.

Abdulhaqq, S.A., Martinez, M., Kang, G., Rodriguez, I.V., Nichols, S.M., Beaumont, D., Joseph, J., Azzoni, L., Yin, X., Wise, M., et al. “Repeated semen exposure decreases cervicovaginal SIVmac251 infection in rhesus macaques.” Nat Commun. 2019 Aug 21;10(1):3753. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11814-5.

Papasavvas, E., Kossenkov, A.V., Azzoni, L., Zetola, N.M., Mackiewicz, A., Ross, B.N., Fair, M., Vadrevu, S., Ramogola-Masire, D., Sanne, I., et al. “Gene expression profiling informs HPV cervical histopathology but not recurrence/relapse after LEEP in ART-suppressed HIV+HPV+ women.” Carcinogenesis. 2019 Apr 29;40(2):225-233. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgy149.

Cai, Y., Abdel-Mohsen, M., Tomescu, C., Xue, F., Wu, G., Howell, B.J., Ai, Y., Sun, J., Azzoni, L., Le Coz, C., et al. “BCL6 Inhibitor-Mediated Downregulation of Phosphorylated SAMHD1 and T Cell Activation Are Associated with Decreased HIV Infection and Reactivation.” J Virol. 2019 Jan 4;93(2). pii: e01073-18. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01073-18. Print 2019 Jan 15.

Tomescu, C., Mavilio, D., Montaner, L.J. "Lysis of HIV-1-infected autologous CD4+ primary T cells by interferon-alpha-activated NK cells requires NKp46 and NKG2D." AIDS. 2015 Sep 10;29(14):1767-73. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000777.

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