Research summary

Dr. Hezhao Ji's research program is primarily focused on understanding viral genetics and molecular epidemiology, particularly in relation to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). His laboratory endeavors include developing and implementing advanced technologies for HIV drug resistance testing and diagnosis, as well as improving strategies for molecular viral characterization. Additionally, Dr. Ji's research explores viral diversity and molecular evolution in both HIV and SARS-CoV-2.

Specifically, Dr. Ji has been leading the effort at the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in developing and implementing Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)-based HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) testing technologies. He played a key role in designing and developing the HyDRA pipeline and HyDRA web portal, in addition to his contributions to the development of NGS HIVDR assays. Dr. Ji has dedicated significant efforts to promote the adoption of NGS HIVDR testing in frontline laboratories.

Collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Ji led an international technology transfer project from 2014 to 2017 aimed at implementing NGS HIVDR technologies in regional and national HIVDR reference laboratories within the WHO/PAHO framework. He also organized three international training workshops on NGS HIVDR technologies between 2015 and 2017, welcoming participants from various Latin American & Caribbean and African countries. Dr. Ji initiated, organized, and hosted the 2018 and 2019 International Symposia on NGS HIVDR, which led to the establishment of the "Winnipeg Consensus" on bioinformatics strategies for NGS-based HIVDR testing.

Beyond his contributions to HIV resistance testing methodologies, Dr. Ji's laboratory conducts extensive research on viral genetics, molecular epidemiology, and metagenomics involving HIV and SARS-CoV-2.

Moreover, Dr. Ji serves as a panel member on numerous national and international research funding review panels, and he is actively involved as an editor and reviewer for multiple international scientific journals.

Research interests

  • Drug resistance in HIV/AIDS
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Viral evolution
  • Viral genetics

Research affiliations

Public Health Agency of Canada:
  • Senior research scientist at Viral Genetics Unit, National HIV & Retrovirology Laboratories, National Microbiology Laboratory, JC Wilt Infectious Diseases Research Centre
  • Head of Viral Genetics Unit
World Health Organization (WHO):
  • Member of WHO Global HIV Drug Resistance Network working groups on Research and Innovation and Laboratory Capacity Building


Brief bio

Dr. Hezhao Ji is an adjunct professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Manitoba. He also serves as a senior research scientist and heads the Viral Genetics Unit within the National HIV & Retrovirology Laboratories at the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) at the JC Wilt Infectious Diseases Research Centre, Public Health Agency of Canada.

With nearly three decades of extensive research experience in clinical medicine, medical immunology, and medical microbiology and infectious diseases, Dr. Ji has led efforts in developing and implementing next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) testing technologies.

He has also played key roles in international technology transfer projects and training workshops on NGS HIVDR technologies.

Dr. Ji is actively involved in research, innovation, and capacity building efforts related to HIV drug resistance at national and global levels.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Medical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba (2007)

Master of Science (MSc) in Medical Immunology, Hebei Medical University (1996)

Bachelor of Medicine (MD equivalent), Faculty of Medicine at Hebei North University (1993)



Scientific Excellence Award, Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada


Science Co-op Supervisor Recognition Award from the University of British Columbia, Canada

Contact us

Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Max Rady College of Medicine
Room 543 - 745 Bannatyne Avenue
University of Manitoba (Bannatyne campus)
Winnipeg, MB R3E 0J9 Canada