Jose A. Fernandez Romero

Picture of José A. Fernández Romero

Deputy Chairperson


Office: N-699R

Office Hours:

Phone: +1 (212) 220-1327

José A. Fernández Romero received his B.S. in Microbiology and an M.S. in Virology from the University of Havana, Cuba, and a Ph.D. in Health Sciences from the National University of Córdoba, Argentina. Professor Fernández Romero taught Virology and Genetic Engineering at the University of Havana while researching the antiviral properties of Cuban indigenous plants. He also taught Microbiology and General Biology at Hostos Community College, where he worked as an Adjunct Assistant Professor. In 2002, he joined the Center for Biomedical Research at Population Council in New York, leading the preclinical virology team. There, he has conducted extensive research on microbicide candidates to potentially prevent the acquisition of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as screening compounds with potential antiviral activity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Professor Fernández Romero joined the BMCC science department in 2016 and continues to collaborate as a visiting scientist with Population Council. He has published widely in the areas of virology and translational medicine and is a member of the American Society for Microbiology and the International AIDS Society.

Dr. Fernández Romero enjoys traveling around the world. Although not an expert, he also enjoys photography.


Dr. Fernández Romero works on different topics related to preclinical virology and translational medicine.


  • B.S. University of Havana, Cuba, Microbiology,1997
  • Ph.D. National University of Córdoba, Argentina, Health Sciences,2013

Courses Taught

BIO 420 (Microbiology)

Research and Projects

  • Screening of compounds with potential antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. In December 2019, the world woke up to the news of an emerging acute respiratory viral infection. The new severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has spread globally, resulting in millions of cases and deaths. Our project test the potential antiviral activity of different molecules against SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 using a cell-based assay and SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses.
  • Developing and testing a griffithsin microbicide. Griffithsin (GRFT) is a protein isolated from Griffithsia sp. (red algae) and probably the most potent anti-HIV agent that has been described in the literature. Additionally, GRFT has shown antiviral activity against hepatitis C virus, SARS virus, herpes simplex virus, and Ebola virus. GRFT for drug development is currently produced in tobacco plants, and the initial preclinical testing shows a good safety profile. Dr. Fernández Romero collaborates with a multidisciplinary team at Population Council to develop a GRFT vaginal microbicide to prevent HIV acquisition and other STIs.
  • Developing a dual compartment Multipurpose Prevention Technology (MPT). A dual compartment MPT may prevent the vaginal and rectal acquisition of HIV and other STIs. Dr. Fernández-Romero is collaborating with a multidisciplinary team at Population Council to develop a dual compartment MPT microbicide gel containing the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor MIV-150 with zinc acetate carrageenan.
  • Professor Fernández Romero sees his role as an academic to be not just a reproducer of facts but a professor/mentor that sows knowledge and scientific curiosity in his students. Professor Fernández Romero is interested in mentoring self-motivated students that want to learn about MPTs, preclinical studies, and emerging diseases.


  • Okafor, S.N.; Meyer, A.; Gadsden, J.; Ahmed, F.; Guzmán, L.; Ahmed, H.; Fernández Romero, J.A.; Angsantikul, P. Drug Reprofiling to Identify Potential HIV-1 Protease Inhibitors. Molecules 2023, 28, 6330. PMID: 37687159
  • Cornejal N., Pollack E., Kaur R., Persaud A., Plagianos M., Juliani H.R., Simon J., Zorde M., Priano C., Koroch A., and Fernández Romero J.A. Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Properties of Theobroma cacao, Bourreria huanita, Eriobotrya japonica, and Elettaria cardamomum – Traditional Plants Used in Central America. Journal of Medicinally Active Plants. 2023 March 30; 12(1): 1-17
  • Torres Neto L, Monteiro MLG, Fernández-Romero J, Teleshova N, Sailer J, Conte Junior CA. Essential oils block cellular entry of SARS-CoV-2 delta variant. Nature Scientific Reports 2022 Nov 30; 12(1): 20639. PMID: 36450916
  • Rodríguez Y, Martínez Cardoze S, Obineche OW, Melo C, Persaud A, and Fernández Romero JA. Small Molecules Targeting SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein Receptor-Binding Domain. ACS Omega 2022, 7(33): 28779-28789. PMID: 35991504
  • Assanti G, Kaur R, Nizard S, Pollack E, Rafferty B, Priano C, Fernández Romero JA, and Koroch A. Biology, chemistry, and pharmacological activity of Kigelia africana (Bignoniaceae) and Garcinia kola (Clusiaceae) – a review. Journal of Medicinally Active Plants 2022, Vol. 11, No. 1: 1–21.
  • Teleshova N, Keller MJ, Fernández Romero JA, Friedland BA, Creasy GW, Plagianos MG, Ray L, Barnable P, Kizima L, Rodriguez A, Cornejal N, Melo C, Cruz Rodriguez G, Mukhopadhyay S, Calenda G, Sinkar SU, Bonnaire T, Wesenberg A, Zhang S, Kleinbeck K, Palmer K, Alami M, O’Keefe BR, Gillevet P, Hur H, Liang Y, Santone G, Fichorova RN, Kalir T, Zydowsky TM. Results of a phase 1, randomized, placebo-controlled first-in-human trial of griffithsin formulated in a carrageenan vaginal gel. PLoS One. 2022 Jan 20;17(1): e0261775. PMID: 35051209
  • Mahoney O, Melo C, Lockhart A, Cornejal N, Alsaidi S, Wu Q, Simon J, Juliani R, Zydowsky TM, Priano C, Koroch A, Fernández Romero JA. Antiviral Activity of Aframomum melegueta Against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronaviruses type 1 and 2. South African Journal of Botany 2022, 146, 735-739. PMID: 34955582
  • Fernández Romero JA, Paglini MG, Priano C, Koroch A, Rodríguez Y, Sailer J, Teleshova N. Algal and Cyanobacterial Lectins and Their Antimicrobial Properties. Marine Drugs 2021, 19, 687. PMID: 34940686
  • Alsaidi S, Cornejal N, Mahoney O, Melo C, Verma N, Bonnaire T, Chang T, O’Keefe BR, Sailer J, Zydowsky TM, Teleshova N, Fernández Romero JA. Griffithsin and Carrageenan Combination Results in Antiviral Synergy against SARS-CoV-1 and 2 in a Pseudoviral Model. Mar Drugs. 2021 Jul 26; 19(8):418. doi: 10.3390/md19080418. PMID: 34436255
  • Melo C, Perdomo R, Yerima F, Mahoney O, Cornejal N,  Alsaidi S, Coron S, Bonnaire T, Zhang S, Zydowsky TM, Priano C, Fernández Romero JA, Juliani HR, and Koroch A. Antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-SARS-CoV Activity of Commercial Products of Xylopia (Xylopia aethiopica). Journal of Medicinally Active Plants 2021, Vol. 10, No. 1: 1-10.
  • Melo C, Cornejal N, Cruz V, Alsaidi S, Cruz Rodriguez G, Gomez Ramirez A, Sorel V, Bonnaire T, Zhang S, Zydowsky TM, Priano C, Fernández Romero JA, and Koroch A. Antioxidant Capacity and Antimicrobial Activity of Commercial Samples of Guava Leaves (Psidium guajava). Journal of Medicinally Active Plants 2020, Vol. 9, No. 1: 1-13.
  • Fernández Romero JA, Paglini MG and Zydowsky T. Topical formulations to prevent sexually transmitted infections: are we on track? Future Virology 2019, Vol. 14, No. 8: 503-506. Published Online:22 Aug 2019.
  • Derby N, Lal M, Aravantinou M, Kizima L, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM. Griffithsin carrageenan fast dissolving inserts prevent SHIV HSV-2 and HPV infections in vivo. Nature Communications 2018 Sep 24;9(1):3881. PMID: 30250170
  • Lal M, Lai M, Ugaonkar S, Wesenberg A, Kizima L, Rodriguez A, Levendosky K, Mizenina O, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky T. Development of a Vaginal Fast-Dissolving Insert Combining Griffithsin and Carrageenan for Potential Use Against STIs. J Pharm Sci. 2018 Jun 11. pii: S0022-3549(18)30331-9. PMID: 29902477
  • Gil PI, Albrieu-Llinas G, Mlewski EC, Monetti M, Fozzatti L, Cuffini C, Fernández Romero JA, Kunda P, Paglini MG. Pixuna virus modifies host cell cytoskeleton to secure infection. Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 18; 7(1): 5757. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05983-w. PMID: 28720756
  • Mizenina O, Hsu M, Jean-Pierre N, Aravantinou M, Levendosky K, Paglini G, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M, Fernández Romero JA. MIV-150 and zinc acetate combination provides potent and broad activity against HIV-1. Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2017 Aug 15. doi: 10.1007/s13346-017-0421-4. PMID: 28812250
  • Derby N, Aravantinou M, Ugaonkar S, Kenney K, Wesenberg A, Wilk J, Kizima L, Rodriguez A, Zhang S, Mizenina O, Levendosky K, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M. An intravaginal ring that releases three antiviral agents and a contraceptive. Drug Deliv Transl Res. 2017 Jun 9. doi: 10.1007/s13346-017-0389-0. PMID 28600625.
  • Novetsky A, Keller MJ, Gradissimo A, Chen Z, Morgan SL, Xue X, Strickler HD, Fernández-Romero JA, Burk R, Einstein MH. In vitro inhibition of human papillomavirus following use of a carrageenan-containing vaginal gel. Gynecologic Oncology 2016 Nov; 143(2): 313-318. PMID: 27625046
  • Calenda G, Villegas G, Barnable P, Litterst C, Levendosky K, Gettie A, Cooney ML, Blanchard J, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Teleshova N. MZC gel inhibits SHIV-RT and HSV-2 in macaque vaginal mucosa and SHIV-RT in rectal mucosa. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2016 Aug 19. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 27552154
  • Friedland BA, Hoesley CJ, Plagianos M, Hoskin E, Zhang S, Teleshova N, Alami M, Novak L, Kleinbeck KR, Katzen LL, Zydowsky TM, Fernández-Romero JA, Creasy GW. A First-in-Human Trial of MIV-150 and Zinc Acetate Co-Formulated in a Carrageenan Gel. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2016 Dec 15; 73(5): 489-96. PMID: 27437826
  • Villegas G, Calenda G, Ugaonkar S, Zhang S, Kizima L, Mizenina O, Gettie A, Blanchard J, Cooney ML, Robbiani M, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Teleshova N. A novel microbicide/contraceptive intravaginal ring protects macaque genital mucosa against SHIV-RT infection ex vivo. PLoS One 2016 Jul 18; 11(7): e0159332. PMID: 27428377
  • Villegas G, Calenda G, Zhang S, Mizenina O, Kleinbeck K, Cooney ML, Hoesley CJ, Creasy GW, Friedland B, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Teleshova N. In vitro exposure to PC-1005 and CVLs from women vaginally administered PC-1005…In vitro exposure to PC-1005 and cervicovaginal lavage fluid from women vaginally administering PC-1005, inhibits HIV-1 and HSV-2 infection in human cervical mucosa. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2016 Aug 22; 60(9): 5459-66. PMID: 27381393
  • Jean-Pierre N, Barnable P, Kizima L, Rodriguez A, Seidor S, Cooney ML, Clark MR, Doncel GF, Robbiani M, Zydowsky TM, Teleshova N and Fernández-Romero JA. Multipurpose prevention approaches with antiretroviral-based formulations. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2015 Nov 23; 60(2): 1141-4. PMID: 26596943
  • Levendosky K, Mizenina O, Martinelli E, Jean-Pierre N, Kizima L, Rodriguez A, Kleinbeck K, Bonnaire T, Robbiani M, Zydowsky TM, O’Keefe BR and Fernández-Romero JA. Griffithsin and carrageenan combination to target HSV-2 and HPV. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2015 Dec; 59(12): 7290-98. PMID: 26369967
  • Fernández-Romero JA. Not just HIV: preventing other viral sexually transmitted infections. Future Virology. 2015 Nov; 10(11): 1191-94
  • Ugaonkar SR, Wesnberg A, Wilk J, Seidor S, Mizenina O, Kizima L, Rodriguez A, Zhang S, Levendosky K, Kenney J, Aravantinou M, Derby N, Robbiani M, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM. A novel IVR to prevent HIV-1, HSV-2, HPV and unintended pregnancy. J Control Release. 2015 June 17; 213: 57-68. PMID: 26091920
  • Barnable P, Calenda G, Bonnaire T, Menon R, Levendosky K, Gettie A, Blanchard J, Cooney ML, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Teleshova N. MIV-150/zinc acetate gel inhibits cell-associated SHIV-RT in a macaque vaginal explant model. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2015 Jul; 59(7): 3829-37. PMID: 25870063
  • Fernández-Romero JA, Deal C, Herold BC, Schiller J, Patton D, Zydowsky T, Romano J, Petro CD, Narasimhan M. Multipurpose prevention technologies: the future of HIV and STI protection. Trends Microbiol. 2015 Jul; 23(7): 429-36. Review. PMID: 25759332
  • Fernández-Romero JA, Teleshova N, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M. Preclinical assessments of vaginal microbicide candidate safety and efficacy. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2015 Sep 15; 92: 27-38. Review. PMID: 25543007
  • Barnable P, Calenda G, Ouattara L, Jean-Pierre N, Kizima L, Rodr?-guez A, Abraham C, Menon R, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M and Teleshova N. A MIV-150/Zinc Acetate Gel Inhibits SHIV-RT Infection in Macaque Vaginal Explants. PLos ONE. 2014 Sep 26; 9(9): e108109. PMID: 25259616
  • Fernández Romero JA, Gil PI, Re V, Robbiani M, Paglini G. Microbicides for prevention of sexually transmitted infections: Current status and strategies for preclinical evaluation of new candidates. Rev Argent Microbiol. 2014 (Spanish) 46(3): 256-268. PMID: 25444135
  • Rodriguez A, Kleinbeck K, Mizenina O, Kizima L, Levendosky K, Jean-Pierre N, Ford BE, Teleshova N, Robbiani M, Herold BH, Zydowsky T and Fernández Romero JA. In Vitro and In vivo evaluation of two carrageenan-based formulations to prevent HPV acquisition. Antiviral Research. 2014 August; 108: 88-93. PMID: 24909570
  • Kizima L, Rodriguez A, Kenney J, Derby N, Mizenina O, Zhang S, Jean-Pierre N, Pugach P, Lifson JD, Paglini MG, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M, Fernández-Romero JA. A potent combination microbicide that targets SHIV-RT, HSV-2, and HPV infection. PLoS ONE. 2014 April 16; 9(4): e94547. PMID: 24740100
  • Ouattara LA, Barnable P, Mawson P, Seidor S, Zydowsky TM, Kizima L, Rodriguez A, Fernández-Romero JA, Robbiani M, Teleshova N. MIV-150 containing intravaginal rings protect macaque vaginal explants against SHIV-RT infection. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2014 May; 58(5): 2841-8. PMID: 24614384
  • Hsu M, Keele B, Aravantinou M, Krawczyk N, Zhang S, Rodriguez A, Kizima L, Derby N, Blanchard J, Piatak Jr. MJ, Lifson JD, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M. Exposure to MIV-150 from a high-dose intravaginal ring results in limited emergence of drug resistance mutations in SHIV-RT infected rhesus macaques. PLoS ONE. 2014 Feb 27; 9(2): e89300. PMID: 24586674
  • Hsu M, Aravantinou M, Menon R, Seidor S, Goldman D, Kenney J, Derby N, Gettie A, Blanchard J, Piatak M, Lifson J, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky T, Robbiani M. A combination microbicide gel protects macaques against vaginal simian human immunodeficiency virus-reverse transcriptase infection, but only partially reduces herpes simplex virus-2 infection after a single high-dose co-challenge. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2014 Feb; 30(2): 174-83. PMID: 24117013
  • Kenney J, Rodriguez A, Kizima L, Seidor S, Menon R, Jean-Pierre N, Pugach P, Levendosky K, Gettie A, Blanchard J, Piatak Jr M, Lifson JD, Paglini MG, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M, Fernández-Romero JA. A modified zinc acetate gel, a potential nonantiretroviral microbicide, is safe and effective against simian-human immunodeficiency virus and herpes simplex virus 2 infection in vivo. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 2013 Aug; 57(8): 4001-9. PMID: 23752515
  • Singer R, Mawson P, Derby N, Rodriguez A, Kizima L, Menon R, Goldman D, Kenney J, Aravantinou M, Lifson JD, Fernández-Romero JA, Robbiani M, Zydowsky TM. An Intravaginal Ring That Releases the NNRTI MIV-150 Reduces SHIV Transmission in Macaques. Sci Transl Med. 2012 Sep 5; 4(150): 150ra123. PMID: 22956201
  • Aravantinou M, Singer R, Derby N, Calenda G, Mawson P, Abraham CJ, Menon R, Seidor S, Goldman D, Kenney J, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Teleshova N, Robbiani M. The nonnucleoside reverse transcription inhibitor MIV-160 delivered from an intravaginal ring, but not from a carrageenan gel, protects against simian/human immunodeficiency virus-RT Infection. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2012 Nov; 28(11): 1467-75. PMID: 22816564
  • Kenney J, Singer R, Derby N, Aravantinou M, Zhang S, Gettie A, Blanchard J, Piatak M Jr, Lifson JD, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M. A single dose of a MIV-150/Zinc acetate gel provides 24 h of protection against vaginal simian human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase infection, with more limited protection rectally 8-24 h after gel use. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2012 Nov; 28(11): 1476-84. PMID: 22737981
  • Fernández Romero JA, Abraham CJ, Rodriguez A, Kizima L, Jean-Pierre N, Begay O, Ford BE, Gil PI, Peters J, Katz D, Robbiani M, Zydowsky TM. Zinc Acetate/Carrageenan Gels Exhibit Potent Activity In Vivo Against High Dose HSV-2 Vaginal and Rectal Challenge. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 2012 Jan; 56(1): 358-68. PMID: 22064530
  • Katzen LL, Fernández-Romero JA, Sarna A, Murugavel KG, Gawarecki D, Zydowsky TM, Mensch BS. Validation of a Dye Stain Assay for Vaginally Inserted Hydroxyethylcellulose-Filled Microbicide Applicators. Sex Transm Dis. 2011 Nov; 38(11): 1050-5. PMID: 21992983
  • Singer R, Derby N, Rodriguez A, Kizima L, Kenney J, Aravantinou M, Chudolij A, Gettie A, Blanchard J, Lifson JD, Piatak M Jr, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M. The nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor MIV-150 in carrageenan gel prevents rectal transmission of simian/human immunodeficiency virus infection in macaques. J Virol. 2011 Jun; 85(11): 5504-12. PMID: 21411526
  • Begay O, Jean-Pierre N, Abraham C, Chudolij A, Seidor S, Rodriguez A, Ford BE, Henderson M, Katz D, Zydowsky T, Robbiani M, Fernández-Romero JA. Identification of Personal Lubricants that can Cause Rectal Epithelial Cell Damage and Enhance HIV-1 replication in vitro. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2011 Feb 10; 27(00): 1-6. PMID: 21309617
  • Kenney J, Aravantinou M, Singer R, Hsu M, Rodriguez A, Kizima L, Abraham CJ, Menon R, Seidor S, Chudolij A, Gettie A, Blanchard J, Lifson JD, Piatak M Jr, Fernández-Romero JA, Zydowsky TM, Robbiani M. An antiretroviral/zinc combination gel provides 24 hours of complete protection against vaginal SHIV infection in macaques. PLoS One. 2011 Jan 5; 6(1): e15835. PMID: 21246052
  • Fernández-Romero, JA, Thorn M, Turville SG, Titchen K, Sudol KM, Li J, Miller T, Robbiani M, Maguire RA, Buckheit Jr. RW, Hartman TL, Phillips DM. Carrageenan/MIV-150 (PC-815), a combination microbicide. Sex Transm Dis. 2007 Jan; 34(1): 9-14. PMID: 16924181
  • Fernández-Romero JA, Del Barrio Alonso G, Romeu Alvarez B, Gutierrez Y, Valdes VS, Parra F. In vitro antiviral activity of Phyllanthus orbicularis extracts against herpes simplex virus type 1. Phytother Res. 2003 Sep; 17(8): 980-2. PMID: 13680841
  • Pendaz J, Moreira T, Guerra O, Peña BR, Fernández JA. Water relationship in Phyllanthus orbicularis and Punica granatum antiviral extracts and its influence on stability after freezing and freezing-dry. Cryo Letters 2001; 22 (1): 5-12. PMID: 11788838

Honors, Awards and Affiliations

  • Co-Investigator: USAID Cooperative Agreement, Non-ARV-Based Combination Microbicide that Blocks HIV and Other STIs, 2013-2016
  • Co-Investigator: NIH/NIAID R21, A Novel Vaginal Ring to Prevent HIV and HSV-2 Infection, as well as Pregnancy, 2012-2014
  • Co-Investigator on subaward: NIH R01 to Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Carrageenan-Containing Gel in Reducing the Rate of HPV Infection in Healthy Participants, 2010-2015
  • 2017-2018 BMCC Faculty Development Grant
  • 2018-2019 Cycle 49 PSC-CUNY Research Award Track C, $11,944.00
  • 2019 Distinguished Teaching Award
  • 2019 BMCC Marks of Excellence
  • 2020-2021 CUNY Community College Research Grant Program (CCRG), $15,000

Additional Information