Dr. Oliver Fregoso is an assistant professor in the department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG). He was an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, where he double majored in Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology and Studio Art. He also played on the collegiate soccer team, but found his passion for research in the labs at UCSC. He received his PhD from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (New York) and did his postdoctoral work at Fred Hutch (Seattle, WA). As a grad student he worked in the lab of Dr. Adrian Krainer Lab where he used proteomics to understand roles of alternative splicing activators and repressors in splicing and other cellular processes, including cancer and senescence. For his postdoctoral studies at Fred Hutch, he worked in the lab of Dr. Michael Emerman. He worked to understand the evolution and emergence of the lentiviral accessory gene Vpx, and to understand how it overcomes antiviral restriction by innate immune proteins. While there, also started developing systems to study the interplay between the host DNA damage response and lentiviral replication.
His lab studies the molecular mechanisms of viral replication, with a primary focus on HIV and related viruses. They are particularly interested in understanding how viruses usurp host proteins to facilitate replication and to overcome host antiviral mechanisms, and how these interactions influence the evolution of the virus and the host as well as viral cross-species transmission. In addition, the lab is investigating how HIV contributes to diseases not directly attributed to viral replication, such as disorders of the central and peripheral nervous systems. By using a unique combination of molecular biology, biochemistry, stem cell biology, and evolutionary biology, they hope to uncover novel aspects of viral replication that can lead to the development of antivirals and vaccines.
In addition to his research, Dr. Fregoso is passionate about enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences. For his past and continued efforts in these areas, he was recruited to UCLA as a Mentor Professor, where he is at the forefront of UCLA’s mission to build inclusive excellence in science.