Dr. Sabbaj’s research interests are mainly focused on the study of HIV-specific T cells from peripheral blood and different mucosal compartments and their role in the pathogenesis of HIV-infection. She has studied T cells isolated from peripheral blood, breast milk and more recently menstrual blood in order to understand how these cells control infection. She has extensive experience and expertise in isolating and characterizing T cells from multiple cell sources from both HIV infected and HIV vaccinated healthy individuals. She was the first to demonstrate that HIV-specific T cells were present in the breast milk of infected women and was the first to isolate and characterize T cells from menstrual blood.
She has various publications demonstrating her ability to measure both CD4 and CD8 antigen-specific responses in humans using a plethora of assays including the IFN-g ELISPOT, intracellular cytokine staining and CFSE staining using multicolor flow cytometry. Additional interests include studying T cell responses generated to an experimental vaccine against CMV and understanding NK cells and their functions via HLA-E bound to HIV peptides.