Interview with a Scientist: Michael Summers, Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to Study HIV


For more than 30 years, NIGMS has supported the structural characterization of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enzymes and viral proteins. This support has been instrumental in the development of crucial drugs for antiretroviral therapy such as protease inhibitors. NIGMS continues to support further characterization of viral proteins as well as cellular and viral complexes. These complexes represent the fundamental interactions between the virus and its host target cell and, as such, represent potential new targets for therapeutic development.

In this third in a series of three video interviews with NIGMS-funded researchers probing the structure of HIV, Michael Summers,Link to external web site professor of biochemistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, discusses his use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology to study HIV. Of recent interest to Summers has been using NMR to investigate how HIV’s RNA enables the virus to reproduce. His goals for this line of research are to develop treatments against HIV as well as learning how to best engineer viruses to deliver helpful therapies to individuals with a variety of diseases.

Summers also talks about the importance of providing research opportunities to undergraduate students and high school students from underrepresented populations. He partners with Baltimore-based Youth Works to give up to 40 or 50 students summer research experience in his lab, working directly alongside graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Dr. Summers’ work is funded in part by the NIH under grants 5R01GM042561 and 5R25GM055036.