Emory Vaccine Center
Chief Research Officer
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
Center for Immunology and Vaccines
Nahmias-Schinazi Research Professor
Division of Infectious Disease
Vice Chair for Research
Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine
Emory Center for AIDS Research
Dr. Paul Spearman is Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology, Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University, and Chief Research Officer for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Dr. Spearman received his M.D. degree from the University of Texas Southwestern, and trained in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Ohio State University. He then pursued Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Spearman spent eleven years on the faculty of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Division at Vanderbilt University before assuming the Director’s role at Emory. He directs a basic research laboratory studying the assembly process of HIV, the role of the HIV accessory protein Vpu, and the design and evaluation of novel HIV vaccines. In addition to his local leadership roles, Dr. Spearman has served on a number of NIH study sections and chaired the AIDS Molecular and Cellular Biology Study Section from 2009-2011. He is Chair of the Research Affairs Committee for the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.
The Spearman laboratory focuses on HIV assembly, host restriction factors that limit HIV replication, and the development of novel HIV vaccines. HIV assembly is directed by the Gag protein and occurs primarily on the plasma membrane of infected cells. Current projects in HIV assembly are focused on identifying trafficking factors that direct Gag and Env to the particle assembly site, and on defining the nature of the intracellular virus-containing compartment in human macrophages. A new pathway directing HIV Env to the particle assembly site that requires specific Rab proteins and their adaptors has been identified in the laboratory and is under intense study. Tetherin is a potent host restriction factor that limits the release of viral particles from the plasma membrane following budding, and is the target of the viral Vpu protein. We have defined an important contribution of the tetherin ectodomain to microdomain localization and restriction, and projects are underway to completely define the mechanism by which Vpu disrupts restriction. The role of tetherin in HIV-infected macrophages is another area of interest, and we have recently shown that tetherin is essential for the formation of an intracellular compartment in macrophages where viruses accumulate. HIV vaccine-related projects include the design and production of novel virus-like particle immunogens for use in prime-boost immunization regimens, and the study of novel live vectors and new adjuvants for the induction of neutralizing antibodies.