Professor, Genetics and Microbiology and Immunology
Area of Interest
The ultimate goal of my research program is the development of safe and effective vaccine vectors and immune response modifiers (adjuvants) that can be used to prevent infectious diseases, including oncogenic viruses, or as cancer immunotherapies in vulnerable populations. We are working to achieve this goal by trying to understand basic interactions between viruses and the host innate immune system and then using this information to drive the generation of highly efficacious and safe vaccine delivery systems and immune therapies.
This research program can be divided into two major areas of emphasis. The first program is focused on understanding how viruses modulate the innate immune system, with the goal disabling or harnessing these processes to enhance or modify the immunogenicity of virus-based vaccine vectors.
The second program is directed toward understanding how host genetic variation affects susceptibility to virus-induced disease and/or variation in vaccine-induced immune responses in at risk populations, with the ultimate goal of identifying key host pathways that can be targeted to either prevent virus-induced disease or to enhance vaccine efficacy/safety in susceptible population.
Though neither of these research programs is directly targeted toward oncogenic viruses, cancer biology, or cancer therapies, this work is highly relevant to the overall goals of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, since these fundamental studies on virus/host interactions/vaccine development are likely to lead to the development of new vaccine vectors that may be particularly useful against oncogenic viruses or as cancer immunotherapies.