About us

The profound success of pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and HIV in causing disease depends on their ability to successfully utilize the host’s cellular machinery for their own advantage to avert its immune system. Understanding these pathways or processes essential for the life cycle of these pathogens is crucial, as it represents potential targets for new drug strategies.

Lab news and events

Our study on COVID-19 and cannabinoids was featured on late-night shows:
Fikadu was also the first scientist to appear on the iconic Ethiopian late-night talk show Seifu on EBS:
Fikadu Paper of the Year

Paper of the Year!

So delighted to learn that our article that describes how SARS-CoV-2 hijacks lipid metabolism pathways has been selected as Paper of the Year by NIH NIEHS.


M tuberculosis ESAT-6

Excited to report our work published in eLife about ESAT-6, a key virulence factor of M. tuberculosis. Importantly, we've developed a nanobody against it, opening new doors to further study the biology of ESAT-6. For more information, please visit this link:
Bates TA, Trank-Greene M, Nguyenla X, Anastas A, Merutka IR, Dixon SD, Shumate A, Groncki AR, Parson MA, Barklis E, Burke JE, Shinde U, Ploegh HL, Tafesse FG. bioRxiv. 2023:2023.08.16.553641. doi: 10.1101/2023.08.16.553641.

alpaca-derived nanobody

Our paper that describes a potent alpaca-derived nanobody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 variants is now published in iScience


So excited to share our new study that is published at JAMA. We show that the immune response of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is age-dependent. Thanks to our Collaborators- the Curlin and Messer lab. Here is the link to the Article.

COVID-19 Response

High-level recognition for our research

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, called out our findings that show people previously infected with the novel coronavirus stand to get a much greater benefit of protection against new variants if they’re vaccinated. Watch the White House briefing from May 4 (he shares our work about 14 minutes into the full video).

HIV-1 Capsid protein block viral assembly

In collaboration with the lab of Eric Barklis we published a new study in the Virology Journal. We showed that nanobodies that bind the HIV-1 Capsid protein block viral assembly and infectivity. Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of targeting HIV proteins, including the Gag/Capsid, with nanobodies to inhibit HIV-1 infection. Here is the link to the Article.


Our pre-print that shows the escape of SARS-CoV-2 variants (UK/B.1.1.7 and South Africa/B.1.351) from humoral immunity elicited by vaccine and natural infections is now in medRxiv.

Our pre-print that shows previously infected vaccinees broadly neutralize SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern is now in medRxiv.

Zika Virus: Master Membrane Manipulator. Click here to read our blog.


Our paper that describes the role of Sphingolipids in the entry of M. tuberculosis is now accepted for publication in mBio.  See the accepted manuscript in Biorxiv.

Our collaborative work with the lab of Sarah Fortune (Harvard School of Public Health) and Bryan Bryson (MIT) on the mechanism of how GM-CSF signaling controls Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection is published in Nature Communications.

Event: Fikadu G. Tafesse is giving a talk about our recent work on the Webinar Series on Sphingolipid Biology.

Event: Fikadu G. Tafesse is one of the invited speakers at the upcoming SLB meeting "Host-Microbial Interactions in Health and Disease: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"

Event: Our PacTB (Pacific Tuberculosis Pathogenesis and Host-Response Research Retreat) meeting this year is in UC Berkley

Event: Conversations in Global Health | Winter 2020 Presented by the Center for Global Child Health Research

Fikadu Tafesse smiles while petting an alpaca.

Congratulations to the Tafesse lab. They've received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their research project, Nanobodies as a Targeted-Therapeutic Against Mtb

Fikadu Tafesse smiling.

Professor Tafesse is featured as part of OHSU's Onward campaign.

Thumbnail from publication figure. Full illustration can be viewed with the linked journal review.

Flaviviruses, such as Zika and Dengue virus, manipulate the lipid content of host cells to replicate and cause disease. Read our new review.




Fikadu discussed the potentials of nanobodies as therapeutics against infectious diseases in "How can one farm in Oregon end two epidemics in Africa?" on the podcast "ONE future"

Highlights of our recent work by different News outlets

Our lab is growing

Tafesse Lab is recruiting. Please see our Contact Us page for details.

Consider applying for a postdoctoral fellowship through Dean's Research Scholar Program and OHSU Fellowship for Diversity in Research.

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