Marta Bull, PhD

Marta Bull, PhD

Academic Title: Research Associate Professor, Pediatrics

"I was in my mid 20s when HIV first broke out on the world stage. I was intrigued by not only the mystery and politics surrounding the disease, but also the passion of those with the disease fighting for research and access to medicines. Every HIV/infectious disease meeting I attend inspires me to keep working on understanding immune mechanisms that promote HIV persistence. I am lucky to work at Seattle Childrens, where life-long learning is part of the job description."

  • Marta Bull started her research career at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her PhD in Immunology. After completing her degree she chose a position at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) as a Protocol Manager. From here she moved into a post-doctoral fellow at Seattle Children's Research Institute (SCRI) to study HIV genetics and viral dynamics throughout the body.
    My laboratory interests combine my background in HIV immunology and phylogenetic population studies to study how immune responses to chronic co-infections (e.g. herpes simplex two, HSV-2) promotes HIV persistence in the mucosa, and how these responses may pose a barrier to an HIV cure.

  • Manuscripts in Refereed Journals

    • Bull ME, McKernan JL, Styrchak S, Kraft K, Hitti J, Cohn SE, Tapia K, Deng W, Holte S, Mullins JI, Coombs RW, Frenkel LM
      Phylogenetic Analyses Comparing HIV Sequences from Plasma at Virologic Failure to Cervix Versus Blood Sequences from Antecedent Antiretroviral Therapy Suppression.
      30892052 AIDS research and human retroviruses, 2019 June : 35(6)557-566
    • Bull ME, Mitchell C, Soria J, Styrchak S, Williams-Wietzikoski C, Legard J, McKernan-Mullin J, Kraft K, Onchiri F, Stern J, Holte S, Ryan KJ, Acosta EP, La Rosa A, Coombs RW, Ticona E, Frenkel LM
      Monotypic low-level HIV viremias during antiretroviral therapy are associated with disproportionate production of X4 virions and systemic immune activation.
      29683841 AIDS (London, England), 2018 July 17 : 32(11)1389-1401 PMCID:PMC6039404
    • Williams-Wietzikoski CA, So ID, Bull ME, Samleerat T, Pathanapitoon K, Kunavisarut P, Kongyai N, Ngo-Giang-Huong N, Frenkel LM, Sirirungsi W
      Genetic analyses of HIV env associated with uveitis in antiretroviral-naive individuals.
      28591079 AIDS (London, England), 2017 Aug. 24 : 31(13)1825-1830 PMCID:PMC5529222
    • Ticona E, Bull ME, Soria J, Tapia K, Legard J, Styrchak SM, Williams C, Mitchell C, La Rosa A, Rosa AL, Coombs RW, Frenkel LM
      Biomarkers of inflammation in HIV-infected Peruvian men and women before and during suppressive antiretroviral therapy.
      26372272 AIDS (London, England), 2015 Aug. 24 : 29(13)1617-22 PMCID:PMC4823992
    • Bull ME, Legard J, Tapia K, Sorensen B, Cohn SE, Garcia R, Holte SE, Coombs RW, Hitti JE
      HIV-1 shedding from the female genital tract is associated with increased Th1 cytokines/chemokines that maintain tissue homeostasis and proportions of CD8+FOXP3+ T cells.
      25202922 Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999), 2014 Dec. 1 : 67(4)357-64 PMCID:PMC4213308
    • Bull ME, Heath LM, McKernan-Mullin JL, Kraft KM, Acevedo L, Hitti JE, Cohn SE, Tapia KA, Holte SE, Dragavon JA, Coombs RW, Mullins JI, Frenkel LM
      Human immunodeficiency viruses appear compartmentalized to the female genital tract in cross-sectional analyses but genital lineages do not persist over time.
      23315326 The Journal of infectious diseases, 2013 April : 207(8)1206-15 PMCID:PMC3603533
    • Beck IA, Jang M, McKernan-Mullin J, Bull M, Wagner T, Huang S, Song LY, Nachman S, Krogstad P, Eshleman SH, Wiznia A, Frenkel LM
      Monitoring of HIV type 1 DNA load and drug resistance in peripheral blood mononuclear cells during suppressive antiretroviral therapy does not predict virologic failure.
      22081867 AIDS research and human retroviruses, 2012 Aug. : 28(8)780-8 PMCID:PMC3399556
    • Soria J, Bull M, Mitchell C, La Rosa A, Dross S, Kraft K, Coombs R, Ticona E, Frenkel L
      Transmitted HIV resistance to first-line antiretroviral therapy in Lima, Peru.
      21819256 AIDS research and human retroviruses, 2012 April : 28(4)333-8 PMCID:PMC3316114
    • Gantt S, Carlsson J, Heath L, Bull ME, Shetty AK, Mutsvangwa J, Musingwini G, Woelk G, Zijenah LS, Katzenstein DA, Mullins JI, Frenkel LM
      Genetic analyses of HIV-1 env sequences demonstrate limited compartmentalization in breast milk and suggest viral replication within the breast that increases with mastitis.
      20660189 Journal of virology, 2010 Oct. : 84(20)10812-9 PMCID:PMC2950573
    • Bull M, Learn G, Genowati I, McKernan J, Hitti J, Lockhart D, Tapia K, Holte S, Dragavon J, Coombs R, Mullins J, Frenkel L
      Compartmentalization of HIV-1 within the female genital tract is due to monotypic and low-diversity variants not distinct viral populations.
      19771165 PloS one, 2009 Sept. : 4(9)e7122 PMCID:PMC2741601
    • Bull ME, Learn GH, McElhone S, Hitti J, Lockhart D, Holte S, Dragavon J, Coombs RW, Mullins JI, Frenkel LM
      Monotypic human immunodeficiency virus type 1 genotypes across the uterine cervix and in blood suggest proliferation of cells with provirus.
      19339344 Journal of virology, 2009 June : 83(12)6020-8 PMCID:PMC2687376
    • Bull ME, Learn GH, Mullins JI, Frenkel LM
      Methods used to examine compartmentalization of viral populations between the genital tract and peripheral blood.
      17597465 The Journal of infectious diseases, 2007 Aug. : 196(3)493-4; author reply 494-5
    • Bull M, Lee D, Stucky J, Chiu YL, Rubin A, Horton H, McElrath MJ
      Defining blood processing parameters for optimal detection of cryopreserved antigen-specific responses for HIV vaccine trials.
      17382342 Journal of immunological methods, 2007 April : 322(1-2)57-69 PMCID:PMC1904432
    • Bull ME, Vahlenkamp TW, Dow JL, Collisson EW, Winslow BJ, Phadke AP, Tompkins MB, Tompkins WA
      Spontaneous T cell apoptosis in feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)-infected cats is inhibited by IL2 and anti-B7.1 antibodies.
      15113651 Veterinary immunology and immunopathology, 2004 May : 99(1-2)25-37
    • Vahlenkamp TW, Bull ME, Dow JL, Collisson EW, Winslow BJ, Phadke AP, Tompkins WA, Tompkins MB
      B7+CTLA4+ T cells engage in T-T cell interactions that mediate apoptosis: a model for lentivirus-induced T cell depletion.
      15010229 Veterinary immunology and immunopathology, 2004 April : 98(3-4)203-14
    • Bull ME, Kennedy-Stoskopf S, Levine JF, Loomis M, Gebhard DG, Tompkins WA
      Evaluation of T lymphocytes in captive african lions (Panthera leo) infected with feline immunodeficiency virus.
      14596469 American journal of veterinary research, 2003 Oct. : 64(10)1293-300
    • Tompkins MB, Bull ME, Dow JL, Ball JM, Collisson EW, Winslow BJ, Phadke AP, Vahlenkamp TW, Tompkins WA
      Feline immunodeficiency virus infection is characterized by B7+CTLA4+ T cell apoptosis.
      11930318 The Journal of infectious diseases, 2002 April : 185(8)1077-93
    • Bull ME, Gebhard DG, Tompkins WA, Kennedy-Stoskopf S
      Polymorphic expression in the CD8alpha chain surface receptor of African lions (Panthera leo).
      11777533 Veterinary immunology and immunopathology, 2002 Jan. : 84(3-4)181-9

    Other Publications

    • Bull ME, Learn GH, Mullins JI, Frenkel LM
      Methods used to examine compartmentalization of viral populations between the genital tract and peripheral blood. Author reply
      17597465 The Journal of infectious diseases, 2007 Aug. 1 : 196(3)493-4; author reply 494-5

  • Presentations Title Event Location Date
    Low-level HIV viremias originate in part from infected proliferating cells Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2015) Seattle, WA Feb. 23, 2015 - Feb. 26, 2015
    Invited speaker, Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) New Faces Seminar. Title: "HIV at mucosal sites: tissues may be a significant reservoir and barrier to a cure Seattle, WA 2014
    Invited speaker, Infectious Disease Society of Washington. Title: "Analysis of HIV-1 Variants within the Uterine Cervix and as Related to HIV-1 in the Peripheral Blood Seattle, WA 2007
  • Grant Title Grantor Amount Award Date
    Immune responses to HSV-2 recurrence replenish HIV tissue reservoirs during ART. R01 AI124770 (PI: Bull) NIH July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2021
    Immune responses to HSV-2 recurrence replenish HIV tissue reservoirs during ART. AI027757 (PI: Bull) NIH/UW CFAR June 18, 2014 - May 31, 2017
    Episodic genital tract shedding and the impact of cellular subtypes associated with immune activation/inflammation. R21 AI080439 (PI: Hitti) NIH Sept. 1, 2010 - Aug. 31, 2012


Medical/Professional School

Washington State University, Pullman
Immunology, North Carolina State Univeristy, Raleigh


University of Washington, Seattle

Research Description

Dr. Bull's primary research interest includes HIV at mucosal sites, primarily but not limited to the female genital tract. Her interest in the genital tract is threefold: (1) To better define immunological milieu at mucosal sites and how this pertains to HIV persistence at these sites, (2) to better define the viral dynamics and exchange between the genital tract, blood and other tissues, and (3) to evaluate the role of other chronic viruses - such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1, HSV-2, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Epstein Barr virus - in HIV persistence. Specific areas currently under study include the cellular populations associated with HIV shedding from the female genital tract and immune mechanisms that promote HIV persistence at tissue sites as a barrier to a cure for HIV.