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Faculty Detail    
Campus Address BBRB 544 Zip 2170
Phone  (205) 975-7612
Other websites

Undergraduate  Brandeis University    1986  BA 
Graduate  The Ohio State University    1994  Ph.D. 

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Primary  Medicine  Med - Infectious Diseases Associate Professor
Center  Center for AIDS Research  Center for AIDS Research Associate Professor

Biographical Sketch 
Dr. Sabbaj received her BA from Brandeis University and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. She went on to do Post-doctoral studies at Vanderbilt University under the direction of Barney Graham, studying T cell responses to experimental HIV vaccines. She continued these studies at UAB in the laboratories of Jerry McGhee and later with Mark Mulligan as part of AVEG and later as the HVTN. Dr. Sabbaj joined the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine in 2007.

Society Memberships
Organization Name Position Held Org Link
American Association for the Advancement of Science  Member 
American Association of Immunologist  Member 
American Assoiciation of Microbiology  Member 

Research/Clinical Interest
HIV-1-specific cellular mediated immunity at mucosal sites
Dr. Sabbaj's current interests are 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.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID

CD151 Expression Is Associated with a Hyperproliferative T Cell Phenotype.  
Duration of post-COVID-19 symptoms is associated with sustained SARS-CoV-2-specific immune responses.   34143754  
Extensive proteomic and transcriptomic changes quench the TCR/CD3 activation signal of latently HIV-1 infected T cells.   33465149 
Sustained cellular immune dysregulation in individuals recovering from SARS-CoV-2 infection.   33119547 
Evaluation of Mucosal Humoral and Cellular Immune Responses to HIV in External Secretions and Mucosal Tissues.   33312087  
The tetraspanin CD151 marks a unique population of activated human T cells.   32978478 
Breast Milk HCMV viral load is associated with the establishment of breast milk CMV-pp65 specific CD8 T cells in HCMV infected Mothers.  28968907 
Diminished CD103 (αEβ7) Expression on Resident T Cells from the Female Genital Tract of HIV-Positive Women.  28164171 
The Predominant CD4+ Th1 Cytokine Elicited to Chlamydia trachomatis Infection in Women is Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha, not Interferon-Gamma.  28100498 
Epitope Capsid-Incorporation: New Effective Approach for Vaccine Development for Chagas Disease.  27709126  
HIV-1 latency and virus production from unintegrated genomes following direct infection of resting CD4 T cells.  26728316  
Brief Report: Enhanced Allogeneic Cellular Responses to Mismatched HLA-B Antigens Results in More Efficient Killing of HIV Infected Cells.  PMID: 26588705  
Stable Phenotypic Changes of the Host T Cells Are Essential to the Long-Term Stability of Latent HIV-1 Infection.  25878110 
Immune activation is associated with CD8 T cell interleukin-21 production in HIV-1-infected individuals.  24942568 
Therapeutic efficacy of suppressing the Jak/STAT pathway in multiple models of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.  24323580 
Dimorphic HLA-B signal peptides differentially influence HLA-E- and natural killer cell-mediated cytolysis of HIV-1-infected target cells.  23952339 
HIV-specific CD8+ T cells from elite controllers are primed for survival.  23449791 
Huijbregts, P.H., Helton, E.S., Michel, K.G., Sabbaj, S., Mestecky, J., Richter, H. E., Goepfert, P.A., and Hel, Z. Medroxyprogesterone acetate suppresses innate and adaptive immune mechanisms. Endocrinology, 154 (3): 000-000, 2013.  23354099 
Zhang, M., Clausell, A., Yin, J., Chen, E., Johnson, L., Sabbaj, S., Goepfert, P.A., Weiss, G. and Cron, R.Q. Host factor transcriptional regulation contributes to preferential expression of HIV-1 in IL-4 producing CD4 T cells. J. Immunology, 189: 2746-57, 2012.  22875803 
Cellular immunity in breast milk: implications for postnatal transmission of HIV-1 to the infant.
Sabbaj S, Ibegbu CC, Kourtis AP.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;743:161-9. 
Williams, L.D., Bansal, A., Sabbaj, S., Heath, S.L., Song, W., Tang, J., Zajac, A.J. and Goepfert, P.A. Interleukin-21-producing HIV-1-specific CD8 T cells are Preferentially Seen in Elite Controllers. Journal of Virology, 85:2316-24, 2011.  21159862 
Heath, S.L., Sabbaj, S., Bansal, Kilby, J.M., and Goepfert, P.A. CD8 T cell proliferative capacity is compromised in Primary HIV-1 infection. JAIDS, 56:213-21, 2011.  21079516 
Bansal, A., Carlson, J., Yan, J., Akinsiku, O.T., Schaefer, M., Sabbaj, S., Bet, A., Levy, D.N., Heath, S., Walker, B.D., Ndung’u, T., Goulder, P.J., Heckerman, D., Hunter, E., and Goepfert, P.A. Evolutionary changes in HIV-1 specific CD8 T cell cryptic epitopes derived from antisense transcripts. Journal of Experimental Medicine 207:51-59, 2010.  20065064 
Sabbaj, Steffanie, Kiyono, H., McGhee, J.R. Mucosal Immunization for Enteric Diseases: Current Practice and Future Prospects. BioDrugs , 7:134-157, 1997.  18031087 
Sabbaj, S., Heath, S.L., Bansal, A., Vohra, S., Kilby, J.M., Zajac, A.J., and Goepfert, P.A. Functionally Competent Antigen-Specific CD127hi Memory CD8 T Cells are only preserved in HIV-Infected Individuals treated early J. Infectious Diseases 195:108-117, 2007  17152014 
Fuller, M.J., Hildeman, D.A., Sabbaj, S., Gaddis, D.E., Tebo, A.E., Shang, L., Goepfert, P.A, and Zajac, A.J. Emergence of CD127hi Functionally Competent Memory T Cells is Compromised by High Viral Loads and Inadequate T Cell Help. Cutting Edge J. Immunology 174:5926-5930, 2005.  15879083 
Sabbaj, S., Edwards, B., Ghosh, M., Rhodes, T., Decker, D., Goepfert, P.A., and Aldrovandi, G.M. Breast Milk Derived Antigen-Specific CD8+ T cells: An Extralymphoid Effector Memory Cell Population in Humans. Journal of Immunology 174:2951-2956, 2005.  15728507 
Bansal A., Gough, E., Sabbaj, S., Ritter, D., Yusim, K., Aldrovandi, G., Kaslow, R.A., Wilson, C.M., Mulligan, M.J., Sfakianos, G., Kilby, J.M., and Goepfert, P.A. CD8+ T Cell Responses in Early HIV-1 Infection are Skewed Towards High Entropy Peptides. AIDS 19(3): 241-250, 2005.  15718834 
Bansal, A., Sabbaj, S., Edwards, B.E., Ritter, G.D., Perkins, C., Tang, J., Szinger,J.J., Weiss, H., Goepfert, P.A., Korber, B., Wilson, C., Kaslow, R.A., and Mulligan, M.J. T-Cell Responses in HIV-1-Infected Adolescent Minorities Share Similar Epitope Specificities with Caucasians Despite Significant Differences in HLA Class I Alleles. AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, 19(11): 1017-1026, 2003.  14678609 
Sabbaj, Steffanie, Para, M.F., Fass, R.J., Adams, P., Orosz, C., and Whitacre, C.C. Quantitation of Antigen-Specific Immune Responses in HIV-Infected Individuals by Limiting Dilution Analysis. Journal of Clinical Immunology, 12:216-224, 1992.  1383258 
Sabbaj, Steffanie, Bansal, A., Ritter, G.D., Perkins, C., Edwards, B.H., Gough, E., Tang, J., Szinger, J.J., Korber, B.,Wilson, C., Kaslow, R., Mulligan, M.J., and Goepfert, P.A. Cross-Reactive CD8+ T Cell Epitopes identified in US Adolescent Minorities. Journal of the Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, 33: 426-438, 2003  12869831 
Sabbaj, Steffanie, Edwards, B.H., Ghosh, M.K., Semrau, K., Cheelo, S., Thea, D.M., Kuhn, L., Ritter, G.D., Mulligan, M.J., Goepfert, P.A., and Aldrovandi, G.M. HIV-1 specific CD8+ T cells in Human Breast Milk. Journal of Virology, 76:7365-7373, 2002  12097549 
AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Group Protocol Team (Sabbaj, S. Team member). Cellular and humoral immune responses to a canarypox vaccine containing human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Env, Gag, and Pro in combination with rgp120. J Infect Dis. 2001 Feb 15;183(4):563-70.  11170981 
Sabbaj, Steffanie, Mark J. Mulligan, Ray-Hahn Hsieh, Robert B. Belshe, Jerry R. Mcghee and the NIAID AIDS Vaccine Evaluation Group. Cytokine Profiles in Seronegative Volunteers Immunized with a Recombinant Canarypox and gp120 Prime-boost HIV-1 Vaccine. AIDS, 14:1365-1374, 2000.  10930151 
VanCott, John L., Manuel A. Franco, Harry B. Greenberg, Steffanie Sabbaj, Baozhing Tang, Richard Murray, and Jerry R. McGhee. Protective Immunity to rotavirus shedding in the absence of interleukin-6: Th1 cells and IgA develop normally. Journal of Virology, 74: 5250-5256, 2000.  10799601 
HIV specific CD8+ T cells from Elite Controllers are Primed for Survival.
Yan J, Sabbaj S, Bansal A, Amatya N, Shacka JJ, Goepfert PA, Heath SL. 
Sabbaj, S., Hel, Z., H.L., Richter, H.E., Mestecky, J., and Goepfert, P.A. Menstrual Blood as a potential source of endometrium derived CD3+ T cells. Plos One, 6 (12): e28894, 2011.  22174921 
Akinsiku, O.T.; Bansal, A.; Sabbaj, S.; Heath, S.L.; Goepfert, P.A. Interleukin-2 Production by Polyfunctional HIV-1 Specific CD8 T cells is associated with enhanced viral suppression. JAIDS, 58:1320, 2011.  21637109 
Sabbaj, S; Pass, R.F., Pichon, S., and Goepfert, P.A. CMV Glycoprotein B Vaccine is capable of boosting both Antibody and CD4 T cell Responses to CMV in Chronically Infected Women. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 203:1534-41, 2011.  21592981 
Mestecky, J., Jackson, S., Moldoveanu, Z., Nesbit, L.R., Kulhavy, R., Prince, S.J., Sabbaj, S., Mulligan,M.J., and Goepfert, P.A. Paucity of Antigen-Specific IgA Responses in Sera and External Secretions of HIV-1-Infected Individuals. AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, 20 (9): 972-988, 2004.  15585085 
Edwards, B.H., Bansal, A., Sabbaj, S., Bakari, J., Mulligan, M.J., and Goepfert, P.A. The Magnitude of Functional CD8+ T cell Responses to the Gag Proteins of the Human Immunodeficiency Viurs Type 1 Correlates Inversely with Plasma Viral Load. Journal of Virology, 76:2298-2305, 2002.  11836408 

T cells, HIV-1, mucosal immunity