Dr. Leondios Kostrikis is a tenured Professor of Biological Sciences at University of Cyprus, Head of Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology and former Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences. He received his B.Sc. (1987), M.Sc. (1989), M.Ph. (1990) and Ph.D. (1993) degrees from New York University (NYU), United States. This was followed by post-doctoral research at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center of Rockefeller University (New York) on the molecular virology of human immunodeficiency virus. He joined the faculty of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center as a staff investigator in 1998 and the Rockefeller University as an Assistant Professor in 1999. He moved to Cyprus in 2003, joining the University of Cyprus.
He was a Fulbright Scholar for his undergraduate studies at NYU (1983-1987) and has held fellowship awards from the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the Aaron Diamond Foundation and the Patti Birch 1991 Trust, United States. He has directed over twenty competitive research grants from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the European Commission, international charitable foundations and the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation (CRPF). He is an Editorial Board member for fourteen international journals, and has served on study sections and committees for European and international grant agencies, charities, and scientific conferences in HIV/AIDS. He is a co-founder and Executive Board member of the European Society for Translational Antiviral Research (ESAR) and former Vice President of Board of Directors of the Takis & Louki Nemitsas Foundation. In 2019, he was elected as a Founding Member (Biological Sciences) of The Cyprus Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts and in 2020, he was elected as Member of the Biosciences Steering Panel of the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) and as a Distinguished Fellow of the International Engineering and Technology Institute (IETI).
Emerging and re-emerging human infectious diseases including viral infections constitute an ever-increasing public health threat with devastating socioeconomic consequences of global proportions. In the last forty years alone, humanity has witnessed a number of devastating viral epidemics such as those caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Ebola virus, Zika virus (ZIKV) and most recently 2019-nCoV among many others. HIV currently infects significant fractions of the worldwide population and causes chronic disease resulting in a major burden to public health. In the last twenty years, combined antiretroviral drug therapy (CART), has been developed to specifically target HIV-1 with outstanding success, resulting in a dramatic decrease in mortality among HIV-1-infected individuals. However, the genetic variability of HIV-1 constitutes the most striking challenge in effectively treating HIV-1 infection. Specifically, the accumulation of drug resistant mutations during suboptimal therapy severely affects the clinical benefits of CART, leading to therapy failure and potentially the transmission of drug-resistant HIV-1 strains to newly-infected individuals. Furthermore, the transmission dynamics of HIV-1 in human populations in different geographic regions is important in formulating tailored prevention policies including preventive antiretroviral treatment strategies.
For more than three decades, Prof. Kostrikis’ research efforts focus, on a translational research program that characterizes human genetic and viral factors responsible for major global viral infectious disease threats, that studies the molecular dynamics of HIV-1 infection and the global spread of HIV-1 drug-resistance and that translates this knowledge into novel therapeutic interventions. Over the years, Prof. Kostrikis has made significant contributions to the study of human genetics in the transmission of HIV-1 and disease progression, the global molecular epidemiology of HIV-1 infection and global transmission drug resistance. He is considered as one of the world’s pioneers and top experts in establishing the role of human genetics in the transmission of HIV-1 and progression to AIDS. He has made seminal contributions by creating innovative nucleic-acid-based molecular methodologies and applying them to demonstrate the important implications of natural polymorphisms found in human chemokine receptor genes in the transmission of HIV-1 and disease progression by utilizing well-established American and European HIV/AIDS study cohorts. The results of his studies have a direct impact on the clinical care of HIV-1-infected individuals including Cypriot patients and underline the world-wide dedication towards achieving the goal of diminishing new HIV-1 infections and AIDS by taking full advantage of the therapeutic and preventive effects of combined antiretroviral drug therapy. Prof. Kostrikis has now turned his attention to novel concepts in HIV-1 vaccine development and prevention of HIV-1 transmission.
- Elangovan R., Jenks M., Yun J., et.al. Global and Regional Estimates for Subtype-Specific Therapeutic and Prophylactic HIV-1 Vaccines: A Modeling Study. Frontiers in Microbiology 12: 690647 (doi:10.3389/fmicb.2021), 2021
- Chrysostomou A.C., Vrancken B., Koumbaris G., et.al. A Comprehensive Molecular Epidemiological Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Cyprus from April 2020 to January 2021: Evidence of a Highly Polyphyletic and Evolving Epidemic. Viruses 13: 1098 (doi:10.3390/v13061098), 2021
- Hemelaar , Loganathan S., Elangovan R., et.al. Country Level Diversity of the HIV-1 Pandemic between 1990 and 2015 J. Virol. 95(2), e01580-20 (doi: 10.1128/JVI.01580-20), 2021
- Hemelaar J., Elangovan R., Yun J., et.al. Global and Regional Epidemiology of HIV-1 Recombinants in 1990-2015: A systematic Review and Global Survey. Lancet HIV. 7(11): e771-e781, 2020
- Hemelaar J., Elangovan R., Yun J., et.al. Global and Regional Molecular Epidemiology of HIV-1, 1990-2015: A systematic Review, Global Survey, and Trend Analysis. Lancet Inf. Dis. 9(2): 143-155 (doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30647-9), 2019
- Pineda-Peña A-C, Theys K., Stylianou D. C., et.al. HIV-1 Infection in Cyprus, the Eastern Mediterranean European Frontier: A Densely Sampled Transmission Dynamics Analysis from 1986 to 2012. Scientific Reports. 8(1): 1702 (doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-19080-5.), 2018
- Marshall A. D., Cunningham E. B., Nielsen S., et.al. Restrictions for Reimbursement of Interferon-Free Direct-Acting Antiviral Therapies for HCV Infection in Europe. Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 3(2):125-133, (doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(17)30284-4), 2018
- Hofstra L.M., Sauvageot N., Albert J., et.al. Transmission of HIV Drug Resistance Mutations and Their Predicted Effect on Current First Line Regimens in Europe. Clin. Inf. Dis. 62(5): 655-663, 2016
- Mamais I., Albert J., Angelis K., et.al. Global Dispersal Patterns of HIV-1 CRF01_AE: A Genetic Trace of Human Mobility Related to Heterosexual Activities Centralized in South-East Asia. J. Inf. Diseases 211(11): 1735-1744, 2015
- Loizidou E., Kousiappa I., Themistocleous G., Zeinalipour-Yazdi C. D., et.al. Implications of HIV-1 M-Group Polymorphisms on Integrase Inhibitor Efficacy and Resistance: Genetic and Structural in-silico Analysis. Biochemistry 48(1): 4-6, 2009.
- Metzner K. J., Bonhoeffer S., Fischer M., et.al. Emergence of Minor Populations of Human Immunodefieciency Virus Type 1 Carrying the M184V and L90M Mutations in Subjects Undergoing Structured Treatment Interruptions. J. Infect. Diseases 188(10): 1433-1443, 2003
- Kostrikis L. G., Touloumi G., Karanicolas R., et.al. Quantitation of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type I DNA Forms with the Second Template Switch in Peripheral Blood Predicts Disease Progression Independently of Plasma RNA Load. J. Virology 76 (20): 10099-10108, 2002
- Valentin A., Rosati M., Patenaude D. J., et.al. Persistent HIV-1 Infection of Natural Killer Cells in Patients Receiving Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99 (10): 7015-7020, 2002.
- Hatzakis A., Touloumi G., Karanicolas R., et.al. Effect of Recent Thymic Emigrants on Progression of HIV-1 Disease. Lancet 355 (9204): 599-604, 2000
- Sharkey M., Teo I., Greenough T., et.al. Persistense of Episomal HIV-1 Infection Intermediates in Patients on Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy. Nature Medicine 6 (1): 76-81, 2000
- Kostrikis, L. G., Neumann A. U., Thomson B., et.al. Polymorphism in the Regulatory Regions of the CC-Chemokine Receptor 5 Gene Influences Perinatal Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 to African-American Infants. J. Virology 73 (12): 10264-10271, 1999
- Zhang, L., Lewin S., Markowitz M., et.al. Measuring Recent Thymic Emigrants in Blood of Normal Persons and HIV-1-Infected Patients Before and After Effective Therapy. J. Exp. Medicine 190 (5): 725-732, 1999
- Jin, X., Bauer D. E., Tuttleton S. E., et.al. Dramatic Rise in the Plasma Viremia after CD8+ T-cell Depletion in SIV-Infected macaques. J. Exp. Medicine 189 (12): 991-998, 1999
- Kostrikis L. G., Huang Y., Moore J. P., et.al. A Chemokine Receptor CCR2 Allele Delays HIV-1 Disease Progression and is Associated with a CCR5 Promoter Mutation. Nature Medicine 4 (3): 350-353, 1998
- Kostrikis L. G., Tyagi S., Mhlanga M., et.al. Spectral Genotyping of Human Alleles. Science 279 (5354): 1228-1229, 1998
- Kostrikis L. G., Cao Y., Ngai H., et.al. A Quantitative Analysis of Serum Neutralization of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 from Subtypes A, B, C, D, F, and I: Lack of Direct Correlation Between Neutralization Serotypes and Genetic Subtypes and Evidence for Prevalent Serum-Dependent Infectivity Enhancement. J. Virology 70 (1): 445-458, 1996
- Kostrikis L. G., Bagdades E., Cao Y., et.al. Genetic Analysis of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1 Strains from Patients in Cyprus: Identification of a New Subtype (I). J. Virology 69 (10): 6122-6130, 1995.