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Girish N. Vyas, PhD

Girish N. Vyas, PhD, currently serves as professor of laboratory medicine and director of the UCSF School of Medicine Transfusion Research Program. After receiving his PhD degree in microbiology from the University of Bombay in 1965, he completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1967 he joined the UCSF School of Medicine as a lecturer in the Department of Medicine. He served as director of the blood bank at UCSF Medical Center from 1969 to 1989. His seminal contributions to our current knowledge about transfusion safety, IgA deficiency, viral hepatitis B, and transfusion-transmitted HIV have culminated in his current research on in vitro genetic diversification of prevalent HIV-1 strains co-cultured in CD4-enriched pools of human PBMC for developing an inactivated polyvalent vaccine against HIV-1 infection. Such a candidate vaccine is designed to simulate the natural history of host immune response without infection and is aimed at indigenously availing a safe, effective, and economical HIV vaccine for Africa and Asia.

Dr. Vyas has served on several committees of NAS-NRC, NIH, CDC, FDA, WHO, AABB, ASH, and UNDP. He is currently the chairman of the International Association for Biologicals (IABs) Committee on Blood. As a Fulbright Scholar he worked on molecular biology of hepatitis B virus at the Pasteur Institute in 1980. He has edited 10 books and monographs and published 215 papers on his research in genetics and virology related to transfusion medicine. His contributions with selected references are highlighted below:

  • Defined genetics of Bombay blood phenotype (Transfusion, 1961).
  • Defined pathogenesis of IgA deficiency and serious anaphylactic transfusion reactions caused by class-specific antibodies to IgA (Lancet, 1968; Blood, 1969; N Engl J Med, 1969; Nature, 1970; Clin Genet, 1970; J Lab Clin Med, 1975; Transfusion, 1976).
  • Discovered the first genetic marker of human IgA, A2m (1) (Proc Natl Acad Sci, 1969).
  • Developed the hemagglutination assay for HBV envelope antigens and antibodies, enabling worldwide epidemiological studies of HBV infection and its prevention with HBIg (Science, 1970; Science, 1973; J Am Med Assoc, 1974; N Engl J Med, 1975; N Engl J Med, 1978).
  • Determined biochemical structure, protein conformation, amino acid composition, and sequence of HBV envelope protein (HBsAg) purified from infected human plasma, ultimately leading to characterization of B-cell response to 9 amino acid sequence of the "a" determinant shared by all HBV subtypes (Science, 1972; Nature (New Biology), 1973; J Gen Virol, 1974; Microbios, 1975; Proc Natl Acad Sci, 1976; Proc Natl Acad Sci, 1982)
  • Defined T cell immune response to HBsAg as a T cell dependent antigen with experimental transfer of immunity with RNA from immunized animals (Vox Sang, 1973; Clin Exp Immunol, 1974; Nature, 1974; Nature, 1975)
  • Presented evidence against the genetic hypothesis of HBsAg as a recessive character (Nature, 1974).
  • Purified plasma-derived 20 nm HBsAg, and showed its use as the first generation vaccine against HBV (J Immunol, 1972; J Am Med Assoc, 1985).
  • Developed anti-HBc assay as a marker of current or recent HBV infection, now used in screening of all blood donations (Vox Sanguinis, 1975; Vox Sang, 1977; Gastroenterology, 1977; N Engl J Med, 1982).
  • Cloned HBV DNA probes used in molecular detection and characterization of HBV replication in liver cells (Proc Natl Acad Sci, 1981; Proc Natl Acad Sci, 1984; Hepatology, 1984; Lancet, 1984; Virology, 1984; Trends in Genetics, 1989; Blood, 1989)
  • Histomolecular detection and analysis of HIV-infected cells in cultures (Am J Clin Path, 1987; J Med Virol, 1988; AIDS, 1988).
  • Developed multiplexed flow cytometric assays for antibodies, antigens, and PCR-amplified nucleic acid sequences of blood-borne viruses, viz. HBV, HCV, and HIV (Blood, 1989; J Clin Invest, 1990; Blood, 1993; Transfusion Medicine Reviews, 1994; Cytometry, 1995).
  • Developed the concept of routine leukocyte depletion for safer blood transfusions (Transfusion, 1989; Blood, 1990; Transfn Med Rev, 1990; Vox Sanguinis, 1991; Transfusion, 1993).
  • Assessed the risk of HIV infection in seronegative blood transfusions (N Engl J Med, 1991; Transfusion, 1992; N Engl J Med, 1996).
  • Developed a novel assay for neutralizing antibodies against HIV-1 (J Acq Immunodef Syndr & Hum Retrovirol, 1998).
  • Formulated CD4-enriched cell substrate for inactivated HIV vaccine (Dev Biol, 2001).


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