Location: 5.065R - DTL



Ahuja, Sunil K., M.D.



M.D., Medicine at the Armed Forced Medical College, Pune, Maharashtra, India


Research interests:
Dr. Sunil Ahuja’s Lab is focused on the characterization of the host determinants of immunological health. His work is supported through both federal (e.g. NIH MERIT) and non-federal (e.g. Doris Duke) agencies. His team has a strong track record of successful and productive multi-disciplinary research. Their work in the HIV field has been published in top journals (e.g. NEJM, Nature Medicine, Nature Immunology, Science, PNAS, JAMA-Internal Medicine, Blood, CID) with more than 7,885 citations until July 2015. The quality of publication history supports their ability to conduct large-scale genetic/genomic (e.g. RNA-Seq, GWAS, eQTL), epigenetic, epidemiologic, immunologic and translational research related to infectious, immune and inflammatory diseases (e.g. HIV/AIDS, allergy, autoimmunity, immunological aspects of transplantation, NASH studies and aging studies). Since 1996, the research team has included more than 139 undergraduate students, 21 graduate students, 16 medical students, 30 post-doctoral fellow and several assistant and associate professors. Dr. Ahuja also oversees the Center for Personalized Medicine and Genome Unit which houses Illumina-based equipment for conducting GWASs and next-generation sequencing studies. The Centers represent a nodal point for cross-fertilization of ideas from a multi-disciplinary group of investigators from the VA, University affiliate and the DoD. His major research accomplishments include:

  1. Discovery of key chemokine receptors, including CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5), the major HIV co-receptor
  2. Gene regulation of CCR5
  3. Host genetic determinants of HIV-AIDS susceptibility
  4. Influence of treatment timing and host immune-genetic determinants on response to anti-HIV therapy and vaccines
  5. Allergen challenge chamber studies
  6. Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) Studies
  7. Lung Transplant Studies
  8. Genetics, epigenetic and immunological inter-relationships in HIV-AIDS

Awards & Accomplishments

1996 – current
Ad-hoc Reviewer for the following journals:
Science, Nature Medicine, Nature Genetics, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Journal of Virology, Journal of Immunology, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Genetics, Genomics, Journal of Leukocyte Biology, AIDS, Journal of AIDS, Blood, Journal of Infectious diseases, Clinical Infectious Diseases (Award for Outstanding Review)
Research Scholar, Council of Tobacco Research, USA
Dolph Adams Award for the most highly cited paper in J Leukocyte Biology during 1996-2000 (Combadiere C, Ahuja SK, Tiffany HL, Murphy PM. (1996). Cloning and functional expression of CC CKR5, a human monocyte CC chemokine receptor selective for MIP-1 (alpha), MIP-1 (beta), and RANTES) (PMID: 8699119)
Ad-hoc for several NIH study sections per year, including Chair of NIH Special Emphasis study section
AARR1 (AIDS) NIH Study Section — chartered member
Director, Research Center for AIDS and HIV Infection. This is one of two such Research Centers funded by the Veterans Administration
Co-chair (Chemokines and chemokine receptors in health and disease) Experimental Biology, FASEB, Orlando, FL
Burroughs Wellcome Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research
Elizabeth Glaser Scientist Award from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
American Society of Clinical Investigation (Elected)
Veterans Administration Career Development Review board
Veterans Administration Center Review panel
Science Full research article (March 2005) accompanied by News and Views, Perspective, Science Cover designed by Dr. Ahuja
President’s Council (Endowed) Chair for Excellence in Medical Research
Association of American Physicians (Elected)
President’s (UTHSCSA) Distinguished Scholar (Highest University faculty honor)
AIDS Clinical Epidemiology (ACE) Study Section, NIH – chartered member
Consulting Editor, Journal of Clinical Investigation
Paper in Cell Host & Microbe (PMID: 18621010) was selected as one of 8 major advances in the year of 2007-2008 in Human and Medical Genetics
Paper in Nature Medicine (PMID: 18376407) was accompanied by commentary from Dr. Neaton “Getting personal about treating HIV”
“35 Texans who will influence the future”-Texas Monthly
Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist
Clinical Research and Field Studies of Infectious Diseases Study Section (CRFS) – chartered member
Paper in the J Allergy Clin Immunol. (PMID: 22554707) was accompanied with Editorial by Dr. JA Bernstein.
Paper in The New England Journal of Medicine (PMID: 23323898) was selected as among the top 20 advances by a NIAID-supported investigator(# 11 in list) and accompanied by editorial by Bruce Walker and Marty Hirsch in NEJM
Section Editor, Plos ONE
Paper in Journal of the American Medical Association – Internal Medicine (PMID: 2541965) was selected as among the top 10 advances by NIADS for the first half of FY 2015 and was accompanied by commentary by Tim Schaker in JAMA-IM
Paper in J Allergy Clin. Immunol. (PMID: 26026342) was selected for The Editor’s Choice and is featured in JACI’s upcoming issue
Paper in Proc Natl Acad Sci USA (PMID: 26307764) was selected for the ‘In This Issue’ highlights (PNAS 112(34):10563-64) by PNAS Editors


  • Professor of Medicine, Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics/Biochemistry, University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSCSA), San Antonio, TX
  • President’s Council/Dielmann Chair for Excellence in Medical Research, UTHSCSA, San Antonio, TX
  • Director, Research Enhancement Programs, UTHSCSA, San Antonio, TX
  • Director, Center for Personalized Medicine, South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS), San Antonio, TX


Complete list of Dr. Ahuja’s published work is also available in Dr. Ahuja’s NCBI Pubmed Bibliography:
Impact factors (IF) of publications (n=91): 9 (>25 IF), 4 (15-25 IF), 12 (10-15 IF), 6 (7.5-10 IF), 45 (4-7.5 IF) and 15 (<4 IF) and book Chapters (n=2). Citations (Till July 31, 2015): 7,885.

  • Discovery of key chemokine receptors, including CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5), the major HIV coreceptor
    • Ahuja SK, Ozçelik T, Milatovitch A, Francke U, Murphy PM. (1992). Molecular evolution of the human interleukin-8 receptor gene cluster. Nature Genet.2(1):31-6. (PMID: 1303245).
    • Mummidi S, Ahuja SS, McDaniel BL, Ahuja SK. (1997). The human CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) gene. Multiple transcripts with 5′-end heterogeneity, dual promoter usage, and evidence for polymorphisms within the regulatory regions and noncoding exons. J Biol Chem. 272(49):30662-71. (PMID: 9388201).
  • Host genetic determinants of HIV-AIDS susceptibility
    • Gonzalez E, Rovin BH, Sen L, Cooke G, Dhanda R, Mummidi S, Kulkarni H, Bamshad MJ, Telles V, Anderson SA, Walter EA, Stephan KT, Deucher M, Mangano A, Bologna R,Ahuja SS,Dolan MJ,Description: Cover image expansion Ahuja SK. HIV-1 infection and AIDS dementia are influenced by a mutant MCP-1 allele linked to increased monocyte infiltration of tissues and MCP-1 levels. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2002;99:13795-13800 (PMID:12374865)
      • Cover of PNAS Oct.15 2002: MCP-1 SNPs influence recruitment of monocytes to the brain to influence HIV-associated dementia
    • Gonzalez E, Kulkarni H, Bolivar H, Mangano A, Sanchez R, Catano G, Nibbs RJ, Description: Cover image expansionFreedman BI, Quinones MP, Bamshad MJ, Murthy KK, Rovin BH, Bradley W, ClarkRA,AndersonSA, O’Connell R J, Agan BK, Ahuja SS, Bologna R, Sen L, Dolan MJ, Ahuja SK. (2005). The influence of CCL3L1 gene-containing segmental duplications on HIV-1/AIDS susceptibility. Science. 307(5714):1434-40. (PMID: 15637236).
      • Cover of Science magazine Mar.4 2005.
      • Accompanied by News & Views, and Perspective.
  • Influence of treatment timing and host immune-genetic determinants on response to anti-HIV therapy and vaccines.
    • Le T, Wright EJ, Smith DM, He W, Catano G, Okulicz JF, Young JA, Clark RA, Richman DD, Little SJ, Ahuja SK. (2013). Enhanced CD4+ T cell recovery with earlier HIV-1 antiretroviral therapy. N Engl J Med. 368 (3):218-30. (PMID: 23323898).
      • Selected as among top 20 advances by NIAID investigators in 2013.
      • Accompanied by editorial by Bruce Walker and Marty Hirsch in NEJM.
    • Okulicz JF, Le T, Agan BK, Camargo J, Landrum ML, Wright EJ, Dolan MJ, Ganesan A, Ferguson TM,  Smith DM, Richman DD, Little SJ, Clark RA, He W, Ahuja SK. (2015). Influence of the Timing of Anti-retroviral Therapy on Normalization of Immune Status in HIV-1 Infected Individuals. JAMA Intern Med. 175(1):88-99. (PMID: 25419650).
      • Selected by NIAID as among top 10 advances for the first half of FY 2015
      • Accompanied by commentary by Tim Schaker in JAMA-IM
  • Gene regulation of CCR5:
    • Mummidi S, Bamshad M, Ahuja SS, Gonzalez E, Feuillet PM, Begum K, Galvis MC, Kostecki V, Valente AJ, Murthy KK, Haro L, Dolan MJ, Allan JS, Ahuja SK. (2000). Evolution of human and non-human primate CC chemokine receptor 5 gene and mRNA. Potential roles for haplotype and mRNA diversity, differential haplotype-specific transcriptional activity, and altered transcription factor binding to polymorphic nucleotides in the pathogenesis of HIV-1 and simian immunodeficiency virus. J Biol Chem. 275(25):18946-61. (PMID: 10747879).
    • Gornalusse GG, Mummidi S, Gaitan AA, Jimenez F, Ramsuran V, Picton ACP, Rogers K, Manoharan M, Avadhanam N, Murthy8 KK, Martinez H, Murillo AM, Chykarenko ZA, Hutt R, Daskalakis D, Shostakovich-Koretskaya L, Abdool Karim SS, Martin JN, Deeks SG, Hecht F, Sinclair E, Clark RA, Okulicz J, Valentine FT, Martinson N, Tiemessen CT, Ndung’u T, Hunt PW, He W, Ahuja SK. (2015). Epigenetic mechanisms, T-cell activation, and CCR5 genetics interact to regulate T-cell expression of CCR5, the major HIV-1 coreceptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 112(34):E4762-71. (PMID: 26307764).
      • Selected for the ‘In This Issue’ highlights by PNAS Editor. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 112(34):10563-64.
  • Allergen challenge chamber studies:
    • Jacobs RL, Harper N, He W, Andrews CP, Rather CG, Ramirez DA, Ahuja SK (2012). Responses to ragweed pollen in a pollen challenge chamber versus seasonal exposure identify allergic rhinoconjunctivitis endotypes. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 130 (1):122-7. (PMID: 22554707).
      • Accompanied with Editorial by Dr. JA Bernstein.
    • He W, Jimenez F, Martinez H, Harper N, Manoharan M, Carrillo A, Ingale P, Liu Y-G, Ahuja SS, Clark RA,Rather CG, Ramirez DA, Andrews CP, Jacobs RL, Ahuja SK. (2015). Cockroach Sensitization Mitigates Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis Symptom Severity in Individuals Allergic to House Dust Mites and Pollen. J Allergy Clin. Immunol.pii: S0091-6749(15)00547-3.(PMID: 26026342).