Department of Medicine
Faculty Profiles by Division

Division of Infectious Diseases

Faculty Profiles

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photo Elias K. Halvas, PhD

Infectious Diseases


Phone: 412-648-8152

Office: Scaife Hall, Suite 813
3550 Terrace Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Phone: 412-648-8152
Fax: 412-383-7982
Education and Training
BS, University of Pittsburgh, 1992
PhD, West Virginia University, 2000
Postdoctoral, University of Pittsburgh, 2005
Research Interest
Dr. Halvas' researches the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Specifically, he focuses on the development, validation, and testing of new technologies to detect and quantify major- and low-frequency drug-resistant HIV-1 variants. He monitors HIV-1 drug-resistance and evolution by standard genotyping of patient samples, and he investigates the role of low-frequency HIV-1 drug-resistance variants on clinical outcomes. Dr. Halvas also dissects the mechanisms of HIV-1 pathogenesis, carcinogenesis, and persistence as related to HIV cure strategies.

Early in his career, Dr. Halvas' research dissected the structural determinants important for reverse transcriptase fidelity as well as the development and validation of novel genotypic assays used on clinical samples from HIV-1 infected patients) enrolled in either the AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG) or Microbicides Trials Network (MTN). This work was related to the detection/and quantification of major and minor drug-resistance variants employing standard genotyping, single genome sequencing (SGS), and allele-specific PCR in the context of ART efficacy and mother-to-child transmission. This research was instrumental in determining the predictive value that these major and minor HIV-1 drug-resistant variants have on clinical outcomes.

Currently, Dr. Halvas' research involves investigating the role that clonal expansions of HIV-1 infected cells play in HIV-1 persistence and carcinogenesis. This research is being conducted through the application of SGS to detect cell­associated viral DNA and RNA, virus-associated RNA, and full length viral genomes, as well as the recovery of infectious virus, and the capture of integration sites in these HIV-1 infected cells.
Clinical Interest
Dr. Halvas works closely with the HIV Primary Care Center in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pittsburgh to determine why some HIV-1 infected patients have intermittently detectable viremia, which is likely related to clonal expansions of HIV-1 infected cells.
Educational Interest
As a senior member of John Mellors' laboratory, Dr. Halvas’ educational interests are both instructional and supportive, which include training for medical doctors, fellows, graduate students, and technicians in relation to the numerous assays employed to detect and quantify HIV-1.
For my complete bibliography, Click Here.
Selected Publications:
Palmer S, Kearney M, Maldarelli F, Halvas EK, Bixby CJ, Bazmi H, Rock D, Faloon J, Davey RT Jr, Dewar RL, Metcals JA, Hammer S, Mellors JW, Coffin JM. Multiple, linked human immunodeficiency virus type 1 drug resistance mutations in treatment-experienced patients are missed by standard genotype analysis. J. Clin. Microbiol. 2005; 43: 406-413.
Nissley D, Halvas EK, Hoppman, NK, Garfinkel D, Mellors JW, Strathern J. Sensitive phenotypic detection of minor drug-resistant human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reverse transcriptase variants. J. Clin. Microbiol. 2005; 43: 5696-704.
Palmer S, Boltz V, Maldarelli F, Halvas EK, Rock D, Falloon J, Davey RT Jr, Dewar RL, Metcalf JA, Mellors JW, Coffin JM. Selection and persistence of nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-resistant HIV-1 in patients starting and stopping nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-containing regimens. AIDS. 2006; 20: 701-710.
Halvas EK, Aldrovandi GM, Balfe P, Beck IA, Boltz VF, Coffin JM, Frenkel LM, Hazelwood JD, Johnson VA, Kearney M, Kovacs A, Kuritzkes DR, Metzner KJ, Nissley DV, Nowicki M, Palmer S, Ziermann R, Zhao RY, Jennings CL, Bremer J, Brambilla D, Mellors JW,. Blinded, Multicenter comparison of methods to detect low frequency drug-resistant HIV variants. J. Clin. Microbiol. 2006; 44: 2612-2614.
Halvas EK, Wiegand A, Boltz VF, Kearney M, Dissley D, Wantman M, Hammer SC, Palmer S, Vaida F, Coffin JM, Mellors JW. Low frequency NNRTI-resistant variants contribute to failure of efavirenz-containing regimens in treatment-experienced patients. JID. 2010; 201(5): 672-80.
Sponsored Research/Activities
Title: New Approaches to Assessing HIV Reservoirs and Their Depletion
Role: Faculty Collaborator
Funding Agency: Johns Hopkins University
Grant Number: RES
Start Year: 2014
End Year: 2016
Title: LOC, ACTG, EOY 3 Clonal Expansions
Role: Research Assistant
Funding Agency: University of California Los Angeles/ National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases
Grant Number: R01 AI068636
Start Year: 2018
End Year: 2019
Title: Mechanisms of HIV Drug Resistance
Role: Staff Scientist
Funding Agency: Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc.
Grant Number: RES 12XS547
Start Year: 2012
End Year: 2017