Dr Samantha Barichievy recently joined the Synthetic Biology European Research Area as a postdoctoral fellow to undertake research in gene expression and biophysics. The aim of the group is to enhance the study of synthetic biology by developing single molecule imaging technologies that will revolutionise the imaging of gene expression in vivo. The project will focus specifically on developing a visual screening platform to assess interactions between the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and its human host. By combining genome-wide screening with high-speed microscopy, novel fluorescent labelling techniques and highly advanced image analysis, Barichievy hopes to delineate some of the discrete cellular processes required for HIV infection. The project she has proposed aims to uncover answers to fundamental questions that are particularly relevant to Africa such as: what is the genetic basis for the predominance of HIV subtype C, the local African subtype, worldwide? What are the genetic differences that allow certain highly exposed yet uninfected individuals to remain HIV negative? What are the unique host factors that underlie these situations and can they be exploited as diagnostic tools or novel drug targets? The tools and expertise available to her through the Synthetic Biology ERA are unique to South Africa and will provide her with an incredible opportunity to expand the field of gene expression in a highly creative manner.