Aaron Lin graduated from the Harvard Virology Ph.D. program as part of the Sabeti lab from 2014–2020. He sought to better understand different facets of Ebola virus (EBOV) evolution, especially during the 2013–2016 epidemic in West Africa.
Using cell culture and biochemical assays, he showed that a substitution in the viral glycoprotein, GP-A82V, enhanced viral entry into human cells, and a second substitution in the viral nucleoprotein, NP-R111C, affected multiple key viral phenotypes in collaboration with Jeremy Luban’s lab (UMass Medical School). Using next-generation sequencing, he and fellow lab alum Kayla Barnes detected viral mRNA, a hallmark of active viral replication, within semen of a male survivor up to 110 days post symptom onset as part of a clinical case study performed with Daniel Chertow’s lab at the NIH Critical Care Medicine Department. Finally, using single-cell RNA-sequencing, he and fellow lab alum Dylan Kotliar created a single-cell atlas of circulating immune cells throughout Ebola virus disease in non-human primates, identifying aberrant changes in monocytes and nominating host pathways that the virus manipulates for its replication in conjunction with Richard Bennett and Lisa Hensley (NIH Integrated Research Facility), David McIlwain and Garry Nolan (Stanford), and Alex Shalek (MIT). His thesis research was funded by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
Aaron is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University, jointly advised by Britt Adamson and Alex Ploss. He is working on developing a CRISPR-based molecular recorder of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. His postdoctoral research is being funded by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.
During his time in the Sabeti lab, he brought more experimental virology methods into the lab, including BSL-2 systems for high containment pathogens and live virus for BSL-2 pathogens. Additionally, he expanded the scope of RNA-Seq in the lab beyond viral genome sequencing, using it for strand-specific quantification, RNA structure mapping, and host transcriptomics. He is most proud of being able to work with so many lab members, mentoring 2 undergraduate theses and 3 RAs, and establishing numerous fantastic collaborations. Throughout his Ph.D., he learned that chatting with lab members outside of his research field was a great way to learn and apply new techniques to his own work.
“Pardis has fostered an incredible lab environment for individual and team growth. Though I was initially anxious because of the large size of the Sabeti lab, I got to know everyone and felt like I could ask anyone about anything, and that really accelerated me to be my best as a graduate student.”