Rafi Ahmed is the Director of the Emory Vaccine Center. The research in his laboratory focuses on adaptive immune responses to vaccination and viral infection. His goal is to understand the mechanisms of immunological memory and to use this knowledge to develop new and more effective vaccines.
Our MHC tetramer technology has played an essential role in defining the distribution of T cell subsets specific for a variety of pathogens, and this continues to be a central focus of the work in our laboratory. We are interested in both defining the relationships between T cell phenotypes and effector functions that can be assessed using short-term in vitro assays (that do not require amplification of T cell populations), as well as using adoptive transfer experiments in mouse models that permit in vivo testing of the efficacy of purified T cell subsets.
The goal of our lab is to develop vaccines for HIV/AIDS. Our efforts are focused on developing both prophylactic (given to people ahead of infection) as well as therapeutic (given to HIV+ individuals) vaccines. Our DNA/MVA HIV vaccine has completed human Phase IIa studies in US and newer versions of vaccines are about to enter human safety trials.
Our laboratory uses in vitro tissue culture and animal models to study the pathogenesis of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) disease for vaccine and anti-viral drug development. We are also using in vitro tissue culture models of RSV and rhinovirus infections to understand the pathogenesis of asthma and identify treatment options.
We examine the mechanisms that regulate the major histocompatibility complex class-II gene system, which is responsible for the presentation of antigens to the immune system. We also study the regulation of the programmed death-1 (PD-1) gene. PD-1 functions to dampen and restrict immune responses during persistent infections, such as those associated with HIV. By understanding the mechanisms that govern regulation of these genes, reagents may ultimately be designed to help improve vaccination and combat chronic conditions.
Our laboratory works on developing vaccines for prevention of viral diseases, including infection by HIV, influenza, and Ebola viruses. By assembling virus-like particles bearing the surface proteins of these viruses we are producing antigens presented at high density in a particulate form, which are capable of inducing potent immune responses, thereby pre-arming the immune system against the virus. We are also collaborating on new approaches for delivery of antigen to the skin, as a more effective and attractive approach designed to replace hypodermic needles and syringes.
My laboratory pursues ontogenetic and phylogenetic studies of the adaptive immune system in parallel with the analysis of immunological diseases in humans. Current projects include the role of immunoglobulin and non-immunoglobulin genes in normal and abnormal B cell development, and the evolution of alternative adaptive immune systems in vertebrates.
Our research focuses on cellular immunology of chronic infections in humans. We are particularly interested in understanding what constitutes protective T cell immunity in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, both in the presence and absence of HIV co-infection.
Dr. del Rio¿s research interests include early diagnosis of HIV, access to care and compliance with antiretrovirals for hard-to-reach populations. He is also interested in combination (biomedical and behavioral) prevention of HIV infection and the translation of research findings into practice and policy. Dr. del Rio is the Clinical Site Leader for the Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) and the site PI for the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) of the NIAID/NIH.
Dr. Derdeyn¿s laboratory investigates the interplay between neutralizing antibodies and viral escape variants in early HIV-1 infection, the immunopathogenesis of SIV infection in nonhuman primate models, and how antibodies mediate vaccine-induced protection against SIV. These studies will reveal clues about how to induce protective antibodies with a vaccine against HIV-1.
Dr. Galinski's laboratory investigates malaria from many perspectives, involving human and non-human primate infections, to enable the development of new interventions. We study host-pathogen interactions, invasion and immunobiological evasion strategies, molecular mechanisms of antigenic variation and pathogenesis. Our multidisciplinary program includes investigations in vaccine and drug testing, epidemiology and systems biology.
Dr. Grakoui is an Associate Professor jointly appointed in the Departments of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and Immunology at the Emory University School of Medicine. His laboratory is focused on understanding the host immune response to hepatitis C virus in order to better facilitate vaccine development.
Dr. Hunter's research is primarily centered on understanding the host and viral factors that modulate HIV heterosexual transmission and early viral disease in African populations. The goal is to apply the knowledge gained from immunological, immunogenetic, molecular and virologic studies in HIV-1 heterosexual transmission pairs to HIV vaccine development.
Dr. Ibegbu has over 20 years of experience in the study of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. He has extensive experience in multiparameter flow cytometric analysis of HIV-infected individuals and in particular, pediatric patients. He is currently an assistant professor and associate director of Emory Center for AIDS research Immunology Core Laboratory, which is involved in the development, standardization, and optimization of several state-of-the-art assays of cellular immune function for Human and nonhuman Primates. Dr. Ibegbu also provides training for investigators throughout the world and collaborates with various researchers on immunological studies.
Research in Dr. Jacob¿s lab focuses on (a) understanding how humoral immune responses are generated, maintained and regulated, and (b) host immune responses to variant influenza viruses.
The focus of the research in the Kaja laboratory is to understand the mechanisms by which innate and adaptive immune systems interact together in response to infections or vaccines and generate the most efficient protective immune memory.
His research interest is in the biology and pathogenesis of cytomegalovirus (CMV), and his group has made key contributions to the identification of replication functions, latent reservoir in myelomonocytic progenitors, immunomodulatory functions, and cellular response to viral infection. Most recently, study of viral functions that modulate host cell intrinsic activation and death pathways has brought understanding of cell death pathways in host defense and development.
Our research areas of interest are the development of multi-stage malaria vaccines and elucidation of the mechanistic events involved in malaria pathogenesis. Notably, vaccine candidates have been optimized using recombinant chimeric constructs, novel viral vectors and heterologous prime boost immunization strategies. We use NHP models and systems biology tools to understand the dynamics of the host-parasite interaction.
Dr. Mulligan conducts vaccine trials and translational studies of human immune responses to pathogens and/or vaccines. His laboratory performs applied immunology and microbiology assays including antibody binding and functional assays, and T and B lymphocyte assays. The laboratory includes BD LSR Fortessa, cell sorter, BACTEC MGIT 320, and multiplex instruments.
Dr. Omer's research portfolio includes clinical and field trials to estimate efficacy and/or immunogenicity of influenza, polio, measles and pneumococcal vaccines; studies on the impact of spatial clustering of vaccine refusers; and studies to evaluate the impact of maternal immunization on fetal and infant outcomes. He has conducted several studies to evaluate interventions to reduce vaccine refusal and hesitancy.
Walter Orenstein is PI of the Influenza Pathogenesis & Immunology Research Center (IPIRC), a multi-disciplinary project devoted to understanding better how influenza viruses adapt and transmit in human hosts and immune responses that prevent or ameliorate infection. He collaborates with Kaiser Permanente Georgia to epidemiologically evaluate vaccine safety and effectiveness, and is a consultant to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on polio eradication.
Our research program focuses on studies of HIV/AIDS pathogenesis. We follow a comparative approach using humans and nonhuman primate models of pathogenic and nonpathogenic HIV/SIV infections with the aims to (i) define the immunological features allowing SIV-infected natural hosts to avoid progression to AIDS and (ii) design therapeutic intervention to mimic these features in HIV-infected humans.
In many ways the immune system can be described in anthropomorphic terms: its¿ memory allows it to remember and recognize pathogens after years or even decades; it can distinguish between the body's own cells and those of another organism; and it makes decisions about how to respond differently to distinct pathogens. The overall goal of our research is to understand how the innate immune system regulates adaptive immune responses to pathogens and, harness this knowledge in the design of vaccines and therapeutics. Towards this end, we are using an integrative systems biological approach to discover the molecular networks by which the innate immune system controls adaptive immunity.
Dr. Rengarajan's research program centers on understanding the mechanisms of tuberculosis (TB) pathogenesis and host immunity to infection in mice and humans. TB remains an enormous global public health challenge and developing new vaccines and immune-therapeutics for TB, are important goals of her research efforts. She also conducts translational patient-based research to study human immunity to latent and active TB in metro Atlanta and aims to identify diagnostic biomarkers of infection and disease.
Dr. Silvestri's laboratory is interested in studies of HIV infection and AIDS pathogenesis, prevention, and therapy using the non-human primate model of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection. His research has focused on the mechanisms by which SIV infection is non-pathogenic in African monkeys that are natural hosts for the virus, on understanding the immune correlates of protection from virus replication, and more recently, on deciphering the immunological aspects of HIV latency and persistence.
The Spearman laboratory studies HIV assembly, host cell restriction of HIV particle release, and virus-like particles as immunogens to elicit neutralizing antibodies against HIV. Dr. Spearman directs the Pediatric ID division and is Principal Investigator on a number of clinical trials of vaccines for HIV and for other infectious pathogens.
The Speck lab focuses on the pathogenesis of gammaherpesviruses, which are associated with the development of lymphomas and several other types of cancers. These viruses establish a chronic infection in the host, and we seek to understand how virus infection is maintained and what factors predispose some infected individuals to develop cancer.
The work of the Stephens' laboratory research program has focused on the genetic mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis, in particular in the pathogenic Neisseriae, the agents of bacterial meningitis and on the development of bacterial vaccines. The laboratory has helped lead efforts to define the molecular basis for virulence of Neisseria meningitidis in particular the molecular basis and role in pathogenesis of pili, the meningococcal capsular polysaccharides and the genetic and structural basis of the neisserial lipooligosaccharides. We have also contributed to defining the molecular basis of efflux pumps in antibiotic resistance and the pathogenesis of Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Research in our lab focuses on how host cells detect, respond, and regulate immunity to viral infection. In particular, we are interested in how pattern recognition receptors, like the RIG-I like receptors, regulate innate immune, humoral, and cell-mediated responses during virus infection.
Dr. Villinger is a Professor of Pathology at Emory and the Associate Director for the Division of Pathology at the Yerkes NPRC. His research interests are focused on primate models of infectious diseases and modulation of immune responses. Major areas of focus are primate models of AIDS, microbicides and immunotherapy.
We study the interaction of bacterial pathogens with the host, focusing on Francisella tularensis, a potential bioweapon, and Acinetobacter baumannii, a highly antibiotic-resistant and hospital-acquired pathogen. We characterize novel bacterial proteins used to evade innate immune defenses and facilitate antibiotic resistance. This work is aimed towards the development of novel therapeutics and vaccines.