Skip to main content

Fabio Romerio, PhD

Academic Title:

Assistant Professor

Primary Appointment:


Secondary Appointment(s):

Microbiology and Immunology

Additional Title:

Assistant Professor - Institute of Human Virology


725 W. Lombard Street - Room N455

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-1978


(410) 706-4694

Education and Training

1992 - PhD - School of Mathematical Physical and Natural Sciences - University of Pavia, Italy

1994 - Post-doctoral fellow - Medical Biotechnology Center (UMBI), Baltimore, MD


Dr. Romerio has a broad broad background in immunology, virology and molecular biology. His doctoral thesis at the University of Pavia, Italy focused on the identification and characterization of an origin of DNA replication in mammalian cells. In 1994, Dr. Romerio moved to the United States to work in the laboratory of Dr. David Margolis at the Medical Biotechnology Center (UMBI). During his postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Romerio demonstrated that the human transcription factors, YY1 and LSF mediate the recruitment of histone deacetylases to the HIV-1 LTR, which represents a key step in the establishment of HIV-1 latency. Subsequently, Dr. Romerio joined the Institute of Human Virology, where he worked under Dr. Robert Gallo's direct supervision. Dr. Romerio became interested in the mechanisms of HIV-1 persistence. As a Research Associate, he investigated the role of plasmacytoid dendritic cells and chronic, systemic IFN-alpha expression in sustaining immune activation during the course of HIV-1 infection. Later, Dr. Romerio established his own laboratory where he focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 latency. He developed an in vitro culture system to investigate the establishment, maintenance and reactivation of HIV-1 latency in CD4+ T cells. He utilized such model to gain new insight into the distinctive features of latently infected cells, and to elucidate the mechanisms that regulate induction, maintenance and reactivation of HIV-1 latency. That work was funded by an R21 grant from NIH. He also obtained seed funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to perform membrane proteomics studies aimed at the identification of surface molecules uniquely expressed on latently infected CD4 T cells generated with the in vitro model developed in his laboratory. Recently, Dr. Romerio was awarded R01 funding from NIAID to develop a new method for the detection of latently infected cells in clinical samples by adapting immuno-PCR – an ultrasensitive technique for the detection of HIV-1 p24 antigen – to QVOA. In addition, Dr. Romerio is the Principal Investigator on a current R21 grant application that seeks to utilize PrimeFlow RNA (a flow cytometry based technique that detects cell-associated RNA molecules with fluorescently labeled probes) for the quantification of HIV-1 latently infected cells in clinical samples. In recent months, Dr. Romerio's lab has also elucidated the role of the HIV-1 antisense transcript Ast in promoting viral latency. These studies demonstrated that this transcript recruits the PRC2 complex to the HIV-1 5’LTR and promotes epigenetic silencing of the provirus. Moreover, Dr. Romerio's lab is investigating the role that the HIV-1 antisense protein ASP plays in viral replication.

Research/Clinical Keywords

HIV-1, antisense transcript AST, antisense protein ASP, viral latency and persistence, PRC2, H3K27me3, epigenetic marks.

Highlighted Publications

Romerio F, Gabriel MN, Margolis DM. Repression of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 through the novel cooperation of human factors YY1 and LSF. (1997) J Virol 71:9375-82.

Coull JJ, Romerio F, Sun JM, Volker JL, Galvin KM, Davie JR, Shi Y, Hansen U, Margolis DM. The human factors YY1 and LSF repress the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 long terminal repeat via recruitment of histone deacetylase 1. (2000). J Virol 74:6790-9.

Zella D, Romerio F, Curreli S, Secchiero P, Cicala C, Zagury D, Gallo RC. IFN-alpha 2b reduces IL-2 production and IL-2 receptor function in primary CD4+ T cells. (2000). J Immunol. 164:2296-302.

Romerio F, Riva A, Zella D. Interferon-alpha 2b reduces phosphorylation and activity of MEK and ERK through a Ras/Raf independent mechanism. (2000). Br J Cancer. 83:532-8.

Curreli S, Romerio F, Mirandola P, Barion P, Bemis K, Zella D. Human primary CD4+ T cells activated int he presence of interferon-alpha 2b express functional indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase. Interferon Cytokine Res. 21:431-7.

Romerio F, Zella D. MEK and ERK inhibitors enhance the antiproliferative effect of interferon-alpha 2b. (2002). FASEB J. 16:1680-2.

Curreli S, Romerio F, Secchiero P, Zella D. IFN-alpha2b increases IL-10 expression in primary activated human CD8+ T cells. (2002). J Interferon Cytokine Res. 22:1167-73.

Lehmann C, Harper JM, Taubert D, Hartmann P, Fätkenheuer G, Jung N, van Lunzen J, Stellbrink HJ, Gallo RC, Romerio F. Increased interferon alpha expression in circulating plasmacytoid dendritic cells of HIV-1-infected patients. (2008). J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 48:522-30.

Marini A, Harper JM, Romerio F. An in vitro system to model the establishment and reactivation of HIV-1 latency. (2008). J Immunol. 181:7713-20

Lehmann C, Taubert D, Jung N, Fätkenheuer G, van Lunzen J, Hartmann P, Romerio F. Preferential upregulation of interferon-alpha subtype 2 expression in HIV-1 patients. (2009). AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 25:577-81.

Lehmann C, Lafferty M, Garzino-Demo A, Jung N, Hartmann P, Fätkenheuer G, Wolf JS, van Lunzen J, Romerio F. Plasmacytoid dendritic cells accumulate and secrete interferon alpha in lymph nodes of HIV-1 patients. (2010). PLoS ONE Jun 5:e11110.

Iglesias-Ussel M, Marchionni L, Romerio F. Isolation of microarray-quality RNA from primary human cells after intracellular immunostaining and fluorescence-activated cell sorting. (2013). J Immunol. Methods. 391:22-30.

Iglesias-Ussel M, Vandergeeten C, Marchionni L, Chomont N, Romerio F. High levels of CD2 expression identify HIV-1 latently infected resting memory CD4+ T cells in virally suppressed subjects. (2013). J Virol. 87:9148-58.

Lehmann C, Jung N, Förster K, Koch N, Leifeld L, Fischer J, Mauss S, Drebber U, Steffen HM, Romerio F, Fätkenheuer G, Hartmann P. Longitudinal analysis of distribution and function of plasmacytoid dendritic cells in peripheral blood and gut mucosa of HIV infected patients. (2014). J Infect Dis. 209:940-9.

Li J, Lehmann C, Chen X, Romerio F, Lu W. Total chemical synthesis of human interferon alpha-2b via natural chemical ligation. (2015). J Pept Sci. 21:554-60. 

Koch K, Koch N, Sandaradura de Silva U, Jung N, Schulze Zur Wiesch J, Fätkenheuer G, Hartmann P, Romerio F, Lehmann C. Increased frequency of CD49b/LAG3+ Type 1 regulatory T cells in HIV-1 infected individuals. (2015). AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 31:1238-46.

Zapata JC, Campilongo F, Barclay RA, DeMarino C, Iglesias-Ussel MD, Kashanchi F,  Romerio F. The human immunodeficiency virus 1 ASP RNA promotes viral latency by recruiting the Polycomb Repressor Complex 2 and promoting nucleosome assembly. (2017). Virology. 506:34-44.