Kiera Clayton, PhD - Principal Investigator

After receiving her Honors BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Toronto, she completed her PhD in Immunology under the supervision of Dr. Mario Ostrowski, working on Tim-3 regulation of immune responses during HIV infection. In 2015, she joined Dr. Bruce Walker’s lab at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, where she showed that HIV-infected macrophages were resistant to killing by CTL and NK cells. In July of 2021, she moved to UMass Chan Medical School’s Department of Pathology to start the lab, focused on macrophages as hide outs for pathogens and methods used by these cells to evade killer immune responses. She is currently the Co-Leader of the REACH NIH Delaney Collaboratory HIV Eradication Research Group, which focuses on understanding mechanisms that both macrophages and CD4+ T cells use to evade killer responses.


Paula Grasberger - Graduate Student

Paula joined the lab in 2022 as a PhD student. After receiving her BSc in Biology from Tufts University, she worked in the lab of Andy Tager at Massachusetts General Hospital studying idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Paula next transitioned to industry and worked in immuno-oncology and targeted oncology at KSQ Therapeutics, before making her way to UMass for her PhD. Her research in the Clayton Lab will focus on identifying and targeting mechanisms of HIV-infected cell resistance to killing by NK cells as part of the Martin Delany REACH Collaboratory. When she’s not in the lab, Paula enjoys skiing, climbing, kiteboarding, and competitive sailing. She also likes spending time with her two cats and doing crossword puzzles.


Abby Sondrini - Senior Research Associate 

Abigail is a Research Associate in the Clayton lab. She recently graduated from UMass Amherst, where she received her BS in microbiology. In her undergraduate, she worked with soil microbes, studying bacterial genomics in Dr. Kristen DeAngelis’ Lab. Abigail is interested in pursuing graduate school and continuing her career in the field of research. Her research in the Clayton lab focuses on characterizing mechanisms through which HIV-infected macrophages evade CTL-mediated killing, with a focus on the role of SERPINB9. Outside of the lab, you can find Abigail spending time with her family and her dog Mavis, exploring skincare, and reading dystopian novels.


Fred Choi - Research Associate

Fred is a Research Associate who joined the Clayton lab in September 2023. He recently graduated from the University of Virginia, receiving his bachelor’s degree in biology and minor in computer sciences. During his time as an undergraduate, he spent a year in Professor Cedric Williams’s lab observing the learning behavior of laboratory rats in detecting target explosive odorants. His work in the Clayton lab will focus on identifying granzyme inhibitors that may be differentially expressed between CD4+ T cells and macrophages as well as continuing our project characterizing Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected macrophage interactions with NK cells in the BSL-3. In his free time, he likes to play tennis, watch TV/movies, and occasionally cook.


Amanda Modica - UMass Chan NIH PREP Student

Amanda joined the Clayton Lab in the summer of 2023 as an NIH PREP student. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry and Environmental Science in May 2022 from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. As an undergraduate, she worked in Dr. Arianne Bazilio’s lab conducting water chemistry research on a lake drinking water source experiencing hyper-eutrophication issues. During her PREP year in the Clayton Lab, Amanda’s project will investigate HIV accessory proteins and the mechanisms by which they trigger NK cell killing in CD4+ T cells versus macrophages. Amanda’s long term goal is to earn her PhD (which she will be starting at Drexel in the fall of 2024 - congrats Amanda!) and continue researching the body’s immune response to infectious diseases. In her free time, Amanda enjoys spending time with her two dogs Riley and Rosey, watching movies, and going on walks.


Join the Clayton Lab! - we are actively recruiting for all positions

Graduate Students - Those interested in graduate school can apply to the University of Massachusetts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences ( We are currently accepting rotation students staring in the Fall of 2023 and Winter of 2024

Postdoctoral Fellows

We are looking for talented and motivated postdocs to pursue projects studying tissue-resident macrophage interactions with NK cell cells. Experimental methods related to the projects include HIV infections with primary immune cells, cellular co-culture assays, flow cytometry and FACS analysis, RNA-Seq, CRISPR editing of immune cells, deep sequencing of HIV variants, custom antibody production and purification, and molecular cloning of mutant viruses. The ideal candidate for this position would have a PhD and lab experience in immunology, virology, and biochemistry, and an interest in a career in industry or academia. In addition to laboratory activities, attendance at national/international conferences, contributions towards manuscript preparation and fellowship/grant writing is encouraged. A minimum time commitment of two years will be required. If interested, please send a cover letter and CV to Dr. Kiera Clayton at  

Past Lab Members:

Michelel Pan

WPI Undergraduate 

Mika O'Shea

Research Associate 

Sara Li

Summer Intern 

Katy Mauricio

Summer Intern 

Patrick Kao


Kylie Sumner

Graduate Student