|John Altman, Ph.D.
Area of Research: HIV/AIDS
Vaccine research demands highly accurate and sensitive testing
methods. Dr. John Altman pioneered the development of
tetramer reagents, which can be customized for individual studies
to provide extremely precise measures of immune response.
He heads the Tetramer
Core, funded by the National Institute
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as a service for NIH-approved
investigators throughout the U.S., and also directs the
Emory CFAR Immunology Core, which provides immunology assay
for investigators through Emory’s Center for AIDS
Altman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology
and Immunology in the Emory University School of Medicine.
He earned his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry from the
University of California, San Francisco, and completed
his post-doctoral training at Stanford University.
Our current research programs center around our breakthrough
tetramer technology that we use to directly identify antigen-specific
T cells by staining with tetrameric forms of soluble MHC/peptide
complexes that have enhanced avidity for cells bearing specific
T cell antigen receptors (TCR). Using a mouse model of the
CD8+ T cell response to infection with LCMV (a collaborative
project with Dr. Rafi Ahmed) we are investigating factors that
control the development of the antigen-specific T cell repertoire.
Outstanding questions that we seek to answer include: 1) does
antigen density affect the repertoire of T cells recruited
during an immune response, as predicted by avidity models?;
and 2) are antigen-specific memory T cells selected from among
the larger primary responding population based on additional
interactions mediated by the T cell antigen receptor?
are applying tetramer technology to clinically relevant studies
assessing immune function in HIV-infected individuals on
potent anti-retroviral therapy,
and applied studies to assess AIDS vaccine efficacy in a rhesus macaque model.
We plan to follow up these studies to examine the effects of highly active
antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on the frequency and function
of HIV-specific CD8+ T cells. Finally,
we plan to use the MHC tetramers to assess vaccine development studies in the
rhesus macaque model.