Infection and Immunity (INIM) Research Group
Infection and Immunity (INIM) Research Group (formerly known as AIDS Research Group) is devoted to clinical and translational investigation in HIV infection / AIDS.
INIM was set up in 1995 at the Hospital Universitari de Tarragona Joan XXIII / Universitat Rovira I Virgili under the leadership of Francesc Vidal. We are integrated in Spanish AIDS Research Network (RIS) since 2003 and also participate in several international consortiums involved in epidemiological and clinical research in HIV such as COHERE (www.cohere.org), ART-CC collaboration, HIV-Causal collaboration, SPREAD collaboration and OptTest.
Currently we actively collaborate with several research groups within the RIS but also with some others not located in the RIS. Our main focus of interest and research lines are the following:
- Host genetics. Since our beginnings we have been involved in searching for genetic factors involved in the vulnerability to HIV infection and disease progression.
HIV immunopathogenesis. Two particular subgroups of infected patients have attracted our interest; that of poor recoverers and also elite controllers. Poor recoverers are an interesting subset of infected patients that, despite achieving virological suppression when on ART, do not experience full immune recovery. These individuals have poor prognosis overtime compared with recoverers. In these patients we investigate, through an OMIC science approach (genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, untargeted and targeted metabolomics), the mechanistic pathways involved ultimately searching for predictive biomarkers and potential drug targets. With respect to elite controllers, which are a model for functional cure, we collaborate with the ECRIS cohort investigating virological, inflammatory and immunological mechanisms involved, also by means of an OMIC science approach.
CoRIS cohort and derived sub-cohorts. Our group participates in CoRIS since its beginnings and we provide sequential clinical data and biological samples for the full cohort and for several sub-cohorts (ECRIS, hepatitis, resistances, NADEs). We are particularly interested in several metabolic non AIDS events such as fat redistribution syndromes, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, in which we investigate the role of host genetics, inflammation and microbial translocation.
Drug toxicity. From our beginnings, the adverse of antiretroviral drugs have attracted our interest. Lipodystrophy and metabolic derangements associated with NRTIs and PIs use and kidney damage due to NNRTIs;use has been a focus of extensive research by our group.
The research team is made of eleven members with the following distribution: six physicians (Francesc Vidal MD PhD, team leader; Joaquim Peraire MD, PhD; Consuelo Viladés MD, PhD; Sergi Veloso MD, PhD; Miguel López-Dupla MD, PhD; Montserrat Olona MD), two nurses (Montserrat Vargas, Alfonso Castellano), two basic investigators (Esther Rodriguez-Gallego PhD and Anna Rull PhD), and one lab technician (Verónica Alba). The initial nucleus constructed by Drs. Vidal, Peraire and Viladés has thus expanded to the currently larger group.
Most of us have both hospital and university affiliations. F. Vidal is senior consultant of the Department of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Hospital Universitari Joan XXIII and Professor of Medicine at the Universitat Rovira I Virgili, both in Tarragona, Spain. Most of the remaining clinical members are physicians or nurses at the Hospital and associate professors at the University. Finally, the personnel with more basic profile are affiliated to our Health Research Institute.
Our research activity is closely linked with our clinical activity and involves (and turns around to) our HIV day-care facility, our HIV biobank collection, and our general research laboratory. We also use and closely collaborate with the Centre for Omic Sciences (COS) form our University where we perform most of our OMIC science studies.