Emory University School of Medicine
My research interests focus on vaccine development against three human viral pathogens: 1) the Ebola virus, which causes severe hemorrhagic fever with a high fatality up to 90%; 2) the influenza virus, which poses a great threat by causing influenza pandemics through antigenic shift and inter-species transmission; and 3) HIV, which is the etiologic agent of the AIDS pandemic. Specifically, our group has been pursuing the development and evaluation of novel DNA vaccines and virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines with the goal to improve their efficacy in eliciting protective immune responses against virus infection. Both DNA and VLP vaccines represent new platforms that are under development. They both offer several advantages over other vaccine strategies with respect to: 1) safety, as compared to attenuated viral vaccines; 2) antigenicity, compared to subunit vaccines; 3) utilization for repetitive boosting immunizations, as compared to recombinant viral vaccines; and 4) production cost, as compared to inactivated viral vaccines for viruses of high pathogenicity or low yield. Moreover, both DNA and VLP vaccines can be modified by molecular engineering to further enhance their immunogenicity for eliciting antibody and/or T cell responses. Over the years, we have accumulated extensive experience in the design and evaluation of viral DNA and VLP vaccines and gained substantial knowledge on their respective strength and weakness in eliciting desired immune responses pertaining to the specific need for protection against infection by different viruses.