Faculty and Research

Syed Ali, MA, PhD
Vice Dean for Student and Academic Affairs, Associate Professor
Office Phone:

Research Interest

Research Interests
Drug screening against oncogenic viruses:
Dr. Ali’s group has developed cell culture models and has patented helicase enzyme assays to test putative antiviral drugs on HCV, JCV, and BKV. Additionally, his group constructs computer simulation models of the above-mentioned viral helicases with the drugs testing most potent in wet-lab experiments.
Currently, Dr. Ali’s laboratory is involved in clinical trials to test promising drugs from their in vitro experiments on patients infected with oncogenic viruses, including HCV and HBV.

Viral evolution:
In the past, Dr. Ali’s group has explored the origins and patterns of transmission of HIV in several high risk groups. In Pakistan, they have studied the communities of injection drug users, men who have sex with men, and Afghan refugees. Using bioinformatics tools, Dr. Ali’s group has developed phylogeny for the HIV epidemics in high risk groups in Pakistan, Kenya, Nepal, and Afghanistan.

Selected Publications

Dr. Syed Ali obtained his PhD in 1999, from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and State University of New York, NY, USA. From 1999 to 2003, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston, MA, USA.
Dr. Ali’s earlier work was on cellular transformation by oncogenic viruses. More recently his work has been focused on four viruses: Human Immunodeficiency, Human Papilloma, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B viruses (HIV, HPV, and HCV, respectively). His research group is investigating the immune-evolution of HIV and HPV in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and Kenya. Dr. Ali’s team studies the host and virus factors that drive the evolution of viral epitopes. In addition, they are investigating novel drugs and their mechanism of action against oncogenic viruses, using simian virus 40, HIV, and HCV as models.
Before joining Nazarbayev University in 2015, Dr. Ali was at The Aga Khan University, working in Pakistan, Kenya, and Afghanistan. He has supervised PhD and Master’s students for their dissertation research in the areas of Virology, Oncology, Bioinformatics, and Drug Design. Dr. Ali has designed undergraduate and graduate level courses, in the areas of critical thinking, virology, oncology, and film criticism. He is an expert in e-learning, and has offered several online courses, including a massive open online course (MOOC) in Drug Discovery.