Amy Jacobs PhD

Amy Jacobs

Amy Jacobs

Research Associate Professor

Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Microbial Pathogenesis; Microbiology; Molecular and Cellular Biology; Protein Function and Structure; Viral Pathogenesis; Virology

Contact Information
955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-2085

Professional Summary:

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is now considered a chronic disease in the developed world. In underdeveloped areas where access to antiretroviral therapy is limited, however, it remains a devastating disease contributing to grave socioeconomic problems.

The goal of my research is to expand our knowledge of pathogen interactions with cellular membranes by developing a detailed understanding of the mechanism of HIV entry and by studying co-infection of HIV with the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans in human macrophages.

The first step of HIV infection is HIV entry when the envelope protein complex on the surface of the virus comes into contact with the cellular receptors, glycoprotein CD4 and coreceptor, and mediates merging of the viral and cellular membranes leading to delivery of the viral genetic material. Mechanistic studies help to inform the development of inhibitors to HIV entry that will be beneficial on both therapeutic and prophylactic levels. The envelope protein complex is the machinery that gets the virus into the cell; as such, it is also a prime target for the development of vaccines.

HIV/AIDS often kills by priming the host for opportunistic infections. Cryptococcal meningitis is one of the leading killers of AIDS patients. The human macrophage is the cell type tasked with ingesting and clearing microbes. In my lab, we are working to define the role of the human macrophage in the copathogenesis of the opportunistic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans and HIV during AIDS progression. The mechanisms of host-microbe interactions also serve as templates for the design of novel drug regimens, including immunotherapy.

We have recently utilized our extensive experience in the study of how HIV enters the cell to begin studies in Ebolavirus entry which has a similar mechanism. We are developing inhibitors to the process of Ebolavirus entry and using developments in inhibition to study the mechanism of attachment and membrane fusion into multiple cell types.

It is my objective throughout my career to provide vital basic research in virology and cell biology in order to advance medical treatment and prevention. As an academic researcher, I put a strong emphasis on the training and mentoring of young scientists in my lab, and I participate in the T35 training grant from the National Institutes of Health that UB and Roswell Park Cancer Institute jointly secured. I train master’s and PhD students as well as postdoctoral fellows in the departments of Microbiology and Immunology and Biochemistry. I also mentor undergraduates in research projects; these students may come to me independently or through UB’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA) in which I am active. I direct undergraduate studies for my department, and I am the course director for Biomedical Microbiology, my department’s large undergraduate basic science course.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Illinois at Chicago (2000)
  • BA, Comparative Literature and Italian, University of Iowa (1992)


  • BSL-3 Laboratory Director, University at Buffalo
  • Research Associate Professor, Microbiology and Immunology, State University of New York at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (2008-present)
  • Post Doctoral Fellow, Center for Cancer Research Nanobiology Program, National Cancer Institute National Institutes of Health (2004–2008)

Awards and Honors:

  • H. Brody/Medical Emeritus Society Award for Clinical/Translational Research (2010)
  • National Cancer Institute Director's Intramural Innovation Award (2007)
  • Award for Excellence in Research, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society (2002)
  • Provost's Award for Graduate Research, Univ. of Il at Chicago (2001)
  • National Science Foundation (2001)
  • National Study Abroad Scholarship, Italian Government (1990)
  • Eva M. Byerly Scholarship (1989)

Research Expertise:

  • Microbial pathogenesis
  • Molecular virology: molecular and cellular biology of HIV entry, development of inhibitors of HIV entry, biophysics of viral membrane fusion
  • Viral pathogenesis: secondary opportunistic infections, co-pathogenesis of HIV and C. neoformans, viral mimicry

Research Centers:

  • Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology

UB 2020 Strategic Strengths:

  • Integrated Nanostructured Systems

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • September 2021–July 2023
    Risk Stratification of COVID-19 Vaccinated Individuals based on Antibody Levels
    UB CAT
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • September 2021–July 2023
    Avida Biotech, S.L.
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • December 2020–March 2021
    Efficacy of novel technology to prevent the transmissibility, viability, and infectivity of SARS-CoV-2
    Shreis Scalene Therapeutics
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • March 2020–December 2020
    Computational Drug Design Targeting the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein
    SUNY Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED)
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • November 2016–December 2020
    Modeling AIDS-Associated Opportunistic Infections in Humanized Mice
    Office of the President
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • June 2016–July 2020
    Structure-based Design of Zika Virus Inhibitors Targeting Envelope Glycoprotein (E)
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • January 2016–December 2018
    Generating Neutralizing gp41 MPER Antibodies
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • February 2015–January 2017
    Computationally designed probes to experimentally characterize mechanisms of Ebola virus membrane fusion
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • March 2011–February 2016
    Cell free synthesis of HIV envelope complex
    Skarlow Foundation Memorial Award for Research in Incurable Diseases
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • September 2013–August 2015
    Molecular details of HIV fusion revealed through novel gp41 labeling
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • November 2015
    HIV Inhibitor Development
    Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo
    Role: Principal Investigator
See all (1 more)

Journal Articles:

See all (20 more)

Professional Memberships:

  • American Society for Virology (2018–present)
  • American Chemical Society (2010–present)
  • American Society for Nanomedicine (2009–present)
  • Biophysical Society (2006–present)
  • Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society (2002–present)

Service Activities:

  • Undergraduate Education Curriculum Committee (2023–present)
  • Vaccine Outreach; Pandemic Preparedness; Presenter (2022–present)
  • Faculty Council Steering Committee; Faculty Council Steering Committee (2022–present)
  • Clinical Biosafety Services: ad hoc review committee member for regional businesses and not-for-profit organizations; Biosafety Expert (2022)
  • BSL-3 Laboratory Director (2020–present)
  • NIH Special Emphasis Panel, Topics in Drug Discovery, Clinical, and Field Research in Infectious Diseases, 2020; Grant Reviewer (2020–2021)
  • Review manuscripts for Journal of Virology; Reviewer (2020–2021)
  • Academic Integrity Adjudication Hearing Committee (2020–present)
  • Grievance Committee (2019–present)
  • Adjudication Committee for the Office of Vice Provost for Education Affairs (2018–present)
  • CSMBS Standing Committee on Student Affairs and Academic Standing (2014–present)
  • JSMBS Appeals Committee (2014–present)
  • JSMBS Standing Committee for the Office of Vice Provost for Educational Affairs (2014–present)
  • Biosafety Committee (2014–present)
  • SMBS Appeals Committee; Committee Member (2014–present)
  • Director of Undergraduate Studies (2013–present)
  • Undergraduate Curriculum Development Committee (2013–present)
  • Committee for Dual Use Research of Concern (2013–present)
  • Relations with Industry Committee (2013–present)
  • BSL-3 Laboratory Director; BSL-3 Laboratory Director (2013–present)
  • Review Panel for FBI Personnel Suitability, Tier I Select Agent Program; Committee Member (2013–present)
  • BSL-3 Operating Committee; BSL-3 Operating Committee (2009–present)

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Contact Information

955 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-2085