The Team


Namal Liyanage (Principal Investigator)

Dr. Liyanage received his postdoctoral training with Dr. Genoveffa Franchini at the National Institutes of Health and followed by a research fellow position in the laboratory of Immune Biology and Retroviral section under Dr. Marjorie Robert-Guroff in the Vaccine Branch at NCI.  Dr. Liyanage obtained his undergraduate degree at the Medical School at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka, and his graduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. During his post-doctoral training, Dr. Liyanage studied the role of Natural Killer (NK) and mucosal innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in HIV/SIV pathogenesis and vaccines. Dr. Liyanage was a member of the team that recapitulated the RV144 clinical trial, the first human vaccine trial to show limited but significant protection from HIV acquisition, in rhesus macaques.

Will Mulhern (Laboratory Manager / Research Assistant)

Will Mulhern is a recent Ohio State University graduate with a bachelor’s in pharmaceutical sciences and has been volunteering around the lab since May of 2019.  Currently, Will is acting as the lab manager while he is amid his gap year. He has plans to go to graduate or medical school in the near future.

Manuja Gunasena B.S. (Ph.D. Candidate)

Bachelor of Science Special Degree with Honors in Immunology and Integrative Molecular Biology from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka (2017). His research project focused on the pathogenesis of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection.


Mario Alles M.D. (Post-Doctoral Researcher)

Mario Alles graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo with a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery, followed by an MD in Medical Microbiology from the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo. He is currently working as a Post Doctoral Scholar with a focus on research related to the immunopathogenesis of pediatric HIV infection.

Jacqueline Stewart (Masters Student)

Jacqueline Stewart graduated from The Ohio State University in 2019 with her B.S. in Biology, specializing in Forensic Biology. After graduation she worked at Nationwide Children’s Hospital as a Molecular Genetics Technologist in the core lab facilities. She currently is pursuing her Masters in Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology. Research interest include innate immune cell interactions in mucosal tissues during HIV infection and molecular genetic modeling of HIV infection in lymphoid tissues.

Christina Isckarus (Research volunteer – Undergraduate)

Christina Isckarus is a rising 3rd year within the College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors Program. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry as well as minors in Public Health and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Once completing her undergraduate degree, Christina plans on attending medical school. She is also involved in the Morrill Scholars Program and the Honors Community Council. Her research interests include immunology and oncology.

Joyjitt Majumdar (Research volunteer – Undergraduate)

Joyjitt Majumdar is a second-year student at The Ohio State University, where he’s pursuing a degree in microbiology. Infectious diseases have piqued his interest, and he’s determined to make a career in this field through his research work. After completing his undergraduate degree, Joyjitt plans to obtain a master’s degree in immunobiology to further his knowledge of the human immune system and its function in fighting infectious diseases. With his extensive background in microbiology and immunobiology, he aspires to make a valuable contribution to the medical field by developing innovative treatments and therapies for a variety of infectious diseases.

Varshini Chennupati (Research volunteer – Undergraduate)

Varshini Chennupati is a second-year in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Medicine at the Ohio State University. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience with a minor in global public health. Once completing her undergraduate degree, Varshini plans to attend medical school. She is involved in TEDxOhioStateUniversity as well as the Ohio State RAAS Dance Team, and her research interests include immunology and neurocognitive disorders.

Ali Triplett (Research volunteer – Undergraduate)

Ali Triplett is a fifth-year undergraduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Honors program. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and a minor in Business. After completing her undergraduate degree Ali plans to attend graduate school with hopes of obtaining a PhD in immunology. Her research interests include infectious diseases, specifically HIV and other STDs.


Sarah Board (MD student)

Sarah Board is a rising second-year medical student at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Before moving to Columbus, Sarah graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with her Bachelor of Science in chemistry and from The University of Cincinnati with her Master of Science in pharmacology. Her research interests include infectious disease, global health, and oncology.

Lab Alumni