Ila Singh, M.D. Ph.D.

Ila Singh, M.D. Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, University of Utah

Associate Medical Director, Hepatitis-Retrovirus Laboratories, ARUP Laboratories

Division - Cell Biology and Immunology/ Clinical Pathology



  • Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, University of Utah
  • Associate Medical Director, Hepatitis-Retrovirus Laboratories, ARUP Laboratories
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia University, New York

Scholarly Emphasis: Retroviruses
Research Interests

Our research has recently focused on XMRV, a newly discovered retrovirus that has been linked to human prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome. XMRV is the first gammaretrovirus known to infect humans. While gammaretroviruses have well-characterized oncogenic effects in animals, they have not been shown to cause human cancers. Our experiments show that XMRV is indeed a gammaretrovirus with protein composition and particle ultrastructure highly similar to Moloney murine leukemia virus, another gammaretrovirus that we have studied for the last several years. We analyzed 334 consecutive prostate resection specimens and found XMRV in 27% of prostate cancers. The virus was more likely to be present in higher-grade cancers.  We found that XMRV proteins are expressed primarily in malignant epithelial cells, suggesting that retroviral infection may be directly linked to tumorigenesis. We are currently investigating possible mechanisms of oncogenesis by XMRV in cultured cells, in human tumors and in a mouse model.  We continue to develop more sensitive and specific tests for detection of XMRV in human specimens. We are also investigating XMRV epidemiology:  its prevalence in the general population, routes of transmission and organ tropism besides the prostate.  We have found that a few antiretroviral drugs that are effective against HIV are also effective against XMRV at submicromolar concentrations, and work synergistically when used together.  We continue to work further on understanding XMRV replication and its inhibition by various compounds.  If XMRV is shown to be the cause of prostate cancer or chronic fatigue syndrome, we would have the data necessary to set up controlled clinical trials.

Selected Publications

  • Singh IR, Gorzynski JE, Drobysheva D, Bassit L, Schinazi RF (2010) Raltegravir is a potent inhibitor of XMRV, a virus implicated in prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome. PLoS One. Apr 1;5(4):e9948
  • Schlaberg R, Choe DJ, Brown KR, Thaker HM, Singh IR (2009) XMRV is present in malignant prostatic epithelium and is associated with prostate cancer, especially high-grade tumors. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 106:16351-16356
  • Auerbach MR, Brown KR, Singh IR (2007) Mutational analysis of the N-terminal domain of Moloney murine leukemia virus capsid protein. J Virol 81(22)12337-47
  • Auerbach MR, Shu C, Kaplan A, Singh IR (2003) Functional characterization of a portion of the Moloney murine leukemia virus gag gene by genetic footprinting. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 100(20)11678-83
  • Singh IR, Crowley RA, Brown PO (1997) High-resolution functional mapping of a cloned gene by genetic footprinting. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 94(4)1304-9
  • All Publications: Click Here

Honors and Awards

  • Dr. D. H. Dudha Memorial First Prize in Medicine, University of Bombay, 1986
  • Jane Coffin Childs Fellowship for Medical Research, 1993-1996
  • Irma T. Hirschl Trust Career Scientist Award, 2005-2009
  • The Laboratory Medicine Faculty Teaching Award, Columbia University, 2007

Professional Education

  • 1981 to 1987 University of Bombay, M.D.
  • 1987 to 1993 Yale University, Ph.D. Mechanisms of viral disassembly, superinfection exclusion, and intracellular transport of influenza hemagglutinin. Ph.D. thesis advisor: Dr. Ari Helenius