Thomas Hope received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in Immunology. During his postdoctoral training at UC San Francisco, he began to study HIV Rev protein. The Rev protein, which exports intron-containing RNA into the cytoplasm developed into a field best addressed using techniques of cell biology.
His study of RNA export elements led to the discovery of the Woodchuck Hepatitis Virus Posttranscriptional Regulatory Element (WPRE), which is commonly used to stimulate gene expression levels in expression vectors and gene therapy applications. As Tom began to learn more cell biology it became apparent that such approaches were under utilized to study HIV.
Therefore, the Hope laboratory developed a series of techniques allow the fluorescent labeling of HIV particles or viral proteins. Tom Hope was selected as an Elizabeth Glaser Scientist in 2004.
The Hope laboratory currently utilizes a cell biology approach to study various aspects of HIV from virus entry and assembly, to defining the earliest steps of the sexual transmission of HIV.