Get to Know Us


Christina Guzzo

Principal Investigator

Dr. Guzzo completed her BScH (Life Sciences) at Queen’s University where she first cultivated a passion for HIV/AIDS outreach and education, sparked by her repeated travels to Kenya with a student-led charitable organization. She continued her studies at Queen’s University under the mentorship of Dr. Katrina Gee to receive her PhD  in Microbiology and Immunology, with research focused on identifying novel functions of interleukin-27 (IL-27) in monocyte biology and HIV infection. She trained as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, under the mentorship of Drs. Anthony Fauci and Paolo Lusso where her research had two main branches (1) the characterization of a unique anti-HIV chemokine (lymphotactin/XCL1) and (2) the discovery of human integrin alpha4 beta7 being incorporated into the external envelope of the HIV-1 virus. She will be continuing this research in new directions at the University of Toronto Scarborough. When she is not in the lab you’ll likely find her running along Lake Ontario, playing in a park with her family, or baking some delicious treats!

Graduate Students


Jonathan Burnie

MSc. Candidate

Jonathan completed his HBSc at UTSC in 2018 specializing in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. Jonathan developed a strong interest in HIV pathogenesis and infection during his second year evolutionary biology course and is excited to pursue his MSc in the Guzzo Lab. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.

Laxsha Thaya

MSc. Candidate

Laxsha is finishing her undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and has developed a strong interest in viral immunology. She is currently a thesis student in the Guzzo lab and is focused on exploring the association of HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins with host incorporated proteins. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the piano.

Undergraduate Students


Arvin Persaud

Thesis Student

Having been cultivating an interest in virology/immunology, Arvin joined the Lab hoping to expand his breadth of knowledge under the supervision of Dr. Guzzo. He has successfully completed an undergraduate research study course with Dr. Guzzo, was an NSERC USRA awardee in Winter 2019, and is currently completing his second 4th year thesis for his HBSc. Arvin plans on pursuing graduate studies, likely in the area of viral immunology, and ultimately remaining in academia. Outside of the lab, Arvin enjoys running and hiking, and has an affinity for walking into things and tripping over air.

Vanessa Norouzi

Thesis Student

Vanessa is a 4th year Neuroscience specialist. She found herself drawn to HIV research after visiting Johns Hopkins University, seeing the community impact of HIV, and learning about outreach programs that offer counselling and mobile testing. She came back with a passion for HIV research and raising awareness. Vanessa is interested in cytokine secretion and implications for HIV pathogenesis, and hopes to expand her knowledge under mentorship by Dr. Guzzo. She aspires to one day attend medical school where she can combine her love for science and her desire to give back to the community. In her spare time Vanessa likes playing her guitar, hiking, & traveling as much as she can.

Serene Moussaoui


Serene is currently finishing her undergraduate degree specializing in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. Having taken Dr. Guzzo's Virology course, Serene developed a strong interest in the biological nature of viruses, specifically HIV. She is currently volunteering in the Guzzo lab and plans to pursue a career in academia. In her spare time, Serene enjoys biking and restorative yoga.

Natisha Ho


As a 3rd year student in the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry programs, Natisha is intrigued in the research fields of pathogenic diseases. Her background knowledge of the social factors of HIV/AIDS led her to find Dr. Guzzo's laboratory, where she assists to maintain housekeeping duties. Future prospects that Natisha has in mind include quality control and/or industrial research. She hopes that her time in the laboratory, along with the expertise of the Guzzo Lab team, will provide her a better understanding of HIV. Natisha spends her leisure time taking care of her precious dog Pandora, trail hiking, and listening to kpop, all while attempting to quit her coffee habits.



Stephen Bennett

Having made great contributions to the lab during his first four months as an NSERC USRA and in his last four as an RA, Steve leaves to continue his advanced training in paramedicine. We wish him nothing but the absolute best!

Homaira Hamidzada

Homaira has spent her time in the lab screening and investigating biologically significant host proteins incorporated into the HIV virion surface that would be important for infection and pathogenesis. We wish her all the success as she moves on to pursue her career!

Luis Enrique Davila Juarez

Luis spent the summer 2019 in the lab as a Mitacs Globalink intern. He has since returned to complete his 4th year as a Biotechnology student at UAQ in Querétaro, México.