Xu Yu

Xu Yu, MD

Principal Investigator

Core Member

Ragon Institute of Mass General, MIT, and Harvard

Professor of Medicine

Harvard Medical School

Physician Investigator

Massachusetts General Hospital


(857) 268-7004

400TS 1023

Dendritic Cells and Elite Controllers

Research Overview

The Yu lab studies HIV viruses in diverse groups of participants to investigate possible ways in which the immune system can recognize and combat HIV infection. We study specific types of disease response, like those found in “elite controllers,” people whose immune systems can handle prolonged HIV infection. The lab also looks at how certain innate immune responses, targeting a broad spectrum of pathogens, can be trained to support other immune responses to HIV.

The Yu lab combines basic science immunology with clinical and translational perspectives for improving clinical treatment options for viral infectious disease. Recently, we investigated the proviral reservoirs of “elite controllers,” HIV-1 infected individuals capable of drug-free control of HIV-1 replication despite the presence of a replication-competent viral reservoir. Our research includes the role of dendritic cells and their immunoregulatory functions for generating and fine-tuning adaptive immune responses during HIV-1 infection.  Additionally, we analyze immunological networks associated with immune control of HIV-1 and Zika virus using systems biology-based approaches.

Recognition and Media

Xu Yu is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), inducted in 2021. She received both the Claflin Distinguished Scholar Award and the Stephen Krane Excellence in Research Award for her work at Massachusetts General Hospital. She has also received the Clinical Scientist Development Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.


Xu Yu received an MD from China Medical University in Shenyang, China, and completed postdoctoral training in the AIDS Research Center at MGH.

Selected Publications

An ordeal that does not heal: understanding barriers to a cure for HIV-1 infection

Lichterfeld M, Gao C, Yu XG.

Trends Immunol. 2022 43(8):608-616 PubMed Read on Journal Site

A Possible Sterilizing Cure of HIV-1 Infection Without Stem Cell Transplantation

Turk G, Seiger K, Lian X ,Sun W, Parsons EM, Gao C, Rassadkina Y, Polo ML, Czernikier A, Ghiglione Y, Vellicce A, Varriale J, Lai J, Yuki Y, Martin M, Rhodes A, Lewin SR, Walker BD, Carrington M, Silicano R, Silicano J, Lichterfeld M, Laufer N, Yu X.

Ann Intern Med. 2022 175(1):95-100 Download PDF PubMed Read on Journal Site

Signatures of immune selection in intact and defective proviruses distinguish HIV-1 elite controllers

Lian X, Gao C, Sun X, Jiang C, Einkauf KB, Seiger KW, Chevalier JM, Yuki Y, Martin M, Hoh R, Peluso MJ, Carrington M, Ruiz-Mateos E, Deeks SG, Rosenberg ES, Walker BD, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG.

Sci Transl Med 2021 13(624):eabl4097 Download PDF PubMed Read on Journal Site

Long noncoding RNA MIR4435-2HG enhances metabolic function of myeloid dendritic cells from HIV-1 elite controllers

Hartana CA, Rassadkina Y, Gao C, Martin-Gayo E, Walker BD, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG.

J Clin Invest. 2021 131(9):3146136 Download PDF PubMed Read on Journal Site

Distinct viral reservoirs in individuals with spontaneous control of HIV-1

Jiang C, Lian L, Gao C, Sun X, Einkauf K, Chevalier JM, Chen S, Hua S, Rhee B, Chang K, Blackmer JE, Osborn M, Peluso MJ, Hoh R, Somsouk M, Milush J, Bertagnolli LN, Sweet S, Varriale J, Burbelo PD, Chun TW, Laird GM, Serrao E, Engelman AN, Carrington M, Siliciano RF, Siliciano J, Deeks SG, Walker BD, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG.

Nature 2020 585:261-267 Download PDF PubMed Read on Journal Site

Immunological fingerprints of controllers developing neutralizing HIV-1 antibodies

Martin-Gayo E, Gao Ce, Chen XR, Ouyang Z, Kim D, Kolb KE, Shalek AK, Walker BD, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG*

Cell Reports. 2020. Jan 28;30(4):984-996.e4. PubMed Read on Journal Site

Immune-profiling of ZIKV-infected patients identifies a distinct function of plasmacytoid dendritic cells for immune cross-regulation

Sun X, Hua S, Gao C, Blackmer J, Ouyang Z, Ard K, Ciaranello A, Yawetz S, Sax PE, Rosenberg ES, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG*.

Nat Comms. 2020. May 15;11(1):2421. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16217-5 Download PDF Read on Journal Site

Metabolic pathway activation distinguishes transcriptional signatures of CD8 T cells from HIV-1 elite controllers

Chowdhury FZ, Ouyang Z, Buzon M, Walker BD, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG.

AIDS, 2018. Nov 28;32(18):2669-2677 Download PDF PubMed Read on Journal Site

Lab Team

Ce Gao

Instructor In Medicine

Alex Hochroth

Research Technician I

Melanie Lancien

Research Fellow

Samantha Marzi

Research Technician I

Chloe Naasz

Research Technician I

Wei Wei Sun

Research Fellow

Toong Seng Tan

Research Fellow

Liliana Vela

Research Technician I

Yuepeng Zhang

Postdoctoral Fellow

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