Paul McLaren

Image Sarah London
Research Scientist

Head of host genomics program, studying how human genome variation influences health and disease at the National HIV and Retrovirology Laboratory

Current research and/or projects

Dr. McLaren’s group applies the tools of systems biology (including genomics, transcriptomics and microbiome studies) to questions surrounding differential susceptibility to infection.

In particular, Dr. McLaren is interested in using human genetic information to identify potential drug targets, improve vaccine responsiveness and improve patient response to therapy using a precision medicine approach.

Research and/or project statements

  • Heads the host genomics program, using bioinformatics and molecular techniques to study how to leverage the human genome to inform knowledge of drivers of infection susceptibility, disease progression and response to treatment

  • Developing in-house gene editing assays merging large-scale human genomic databases with genome-wide screens to identify host proteins that can be developed as drug targets to treat and prevent infections

  • Developing multi-scale analyses tools to mine sets of large and diverse data types to understand how the human immune system interacts with the microbiome and impact immune function and infection susceptibility

Professional activities / interests

Mentors FSWEP, co-op, undergraduate and graduate students and PhD candidates.

Journal reviewer for multiple journals including Nature Medicine, PLoS Pathogens, and Clinical Infectious Diseases and Immunity.

Invited conferences and seminars internationally on genomics and HIV

Education and awards


Post-doctoral research at the Brigham and Women’s hospital/Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute examining how the human genome contributes to elite HIV control.

Ph.D. Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, university of Manitoba, 2008

B.Sc. (Hons.) Microbiology, University of Manitoba, 1999


2012 Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery Young/Early Career Investigator Award

2011 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections Young Investigator Award

2008 Apotex Fermentation Major Thesis Award for Molecular Biology

International experience and/or work

  • Junior Group Leader in Bioinformatics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, 2012 - 2015

    • Established an international consortium of infectious disease researchers focused on studying the human genomics of infection involving collaborators on five continents.

  • Active International collaborations:

    • Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (South Africa), University of Nairobi (Kenya), Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (Colombia),Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (Switzerland), National Cancer Institute (USA), Texas Biomedical Research Institute (USA), HIV Vaccine Trials Network (USA), Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (UK), International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (UK)

Key publications

Tough, R.H., McLaren, P.J.  Interaction of the host and viral genome and their influence on HIV disease. 2019 Frontiers in Genetics, 10(JAN).

Raisaro, J.-L., McLaren, P.J., Fellay, J., (...), Klersy, C., Hubaux, J.-P.  Are privacy-enhancing technologies for genomic data ready for the clinic? A survey of medical experts of the Swiss HIV Cohort Study. 2018 Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 79, pp. 1-6.

McLaren, P.J., Pulit, S.L., Gurdasani, D., (...), De Bakker, P.I.W., Fellay, J. Evaluating the impact of functional genetic variation on HIV-1 Control. 2017 Journal of Infectious Diseases, 216(9), pp. 1063-1069.

Bartha, I., McLaren, P.J., Brumme, C., (...), Telenti, A., Fellay, J. Estimating the Respective Contributions of Human and Viral Genetic Variation to HIV Control. 2017 PLoS Computational Biology, 13(2),e1005339.

Asgari, S., McLaren, P.J., Peake, J., (...), Fellay, J., Schlapbach, L.J. Corrigendum: Exome sequencing reveals primary immunodeficiencies in children with community-acquired pseudomonas aeruginosa sepsis. 2016 Frontiers in Immunology, 7, 357, (2016).

Asgari, S., McLaren, P.J., Peake, J., (...), Baer, W., Relly, C.  Exome sequencing reveals primary immunodeficiencies in children with community-acquired Pseudomonas aeruginosa sepsis. 2016 Frontiers in Immunology, 7(SEP),357.

Martinez-Picado, J., McLaren, P.J., Erkizia, I., (...), Izquierdo-Useros, N., Telenti, A.  Identification of siglec-1 null individuals infected with HIV-1. 2016 Nature Communications, 7,12412.

Mclaren, P.J., Raisaro, J.L., Aouri, M., (...), Hubaux, J.-P., Telenti, A.  Privacy-preserving genomic testing in the clinic: A model using HIV treatment. 2016 Genetics in Medicine, 18(8), pp. 814-822.

McLaren PJ, Coulonges C, Bartha, I, (…), Zagury JF, Fellay J. Common variants of large effect explain the majority of the host genetic contribution to HIV-1 control. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2015 Nov 24;112(47):14658-63.

Pereyra F*, Jia X*, McLaren PJ* (…), and The International HIV Controllers Study*. The major genetic determinants of HIV-1 control affect HLA class I peptide presentation. Science. 2010 Dec 10;330(6010):1551-7.


Research facility

1015 Arlington Street
Winnipeg, MB R3E 3M4


Adjunct Professor, Departments of Medical Microbiology and infectious Diseases, College of Medicine Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba