Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Early Career Investigator Recognition

December 2009


Julie Delaloye, MD, PhD

Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Switzerland
Nominated by Dr. Giuseppe Pantaleo

Dr. Julie Delaloye received her MD degree from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland in 2004. After an internship in internal medicine at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV), Lausanne, Switzerland, she joined the laboratory of the Infectious Diseases Service at CHUV headed by Prof Thierry Calandra as an MD-PhD student in 2006 and obtained her MD-PhD degree in 2009.

Within the innate immunity program of the Poxvirus T Cell Vaccine Discovery Consortium (PTVDC) led by Prof Giuseppe Pantaleo, Dr. Delaloye’s work focused primarily on studies aimed at dissecting the innate immune responses to poxviruses vaccine vectors. She recently reported the results of analyses of poxvirus sensing by innate immune cells in PLoS Pathogens. Experiments conducted with macrophages deficient in Toll-like receptors (TLRs), RIG-I-like receptors, adaptor proteins (MyD88, TRIF or IPS-1) or in the NALP3 inflammasome (composed of NALP3, caspase-1 and ASC) revealed a critical role for TLR2, TLR6 and MyD88 in the production of IFNβ-independent chemokines and for MDA-5 and IPS-1 in the production of IFNβ and IFNβ-dependent chemokines. Moreover, transcription of the IL1b gene was induced by the activation of the TLR2-MyD88 pathway, whereas the processing and secretion of IL-1β were under the control of the NALP3 inflammasome. The PTVDC will now generate new poxvirus vaccine vectors with increased immunogenicity either by using viruses with self-limiting replication capacity or virus with deletion of genes encoding proteins involved in immune evasion.

Bing Chen, PhD

Children’s Hospital Boston, US
Nominated by Dr. Barton Haynes

Dr. Chen received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Ohio State University. After his postdoctoral training in Structural Biology with Drs. Stephen Harrison and Don Wiley at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston, he was appointed as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston in 2006.

Research in Dr. Chen’s laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 entry -- that is, how HIV-1 enters host cells and how the viral envelope protein interacts with host cellular receptors. Within the Haynes CAVD consortium, Dr. Chen’s team takes a close look at the molecular actions of the broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies, in particular, 4E10 and 2F5, which target the transiently exposed epitopes in the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of HIV-1 gp41 envelope during viral entry. They have recently shown that HIV-1 membrane is an important participant in binding and neutralization by 4E10 and 2F5. These results suggest that a lipid component may be needed for an immunogen to mimic all the structural components required for neutralization and to induce 4E10- and 2F5-like antibody responses. Dr. Chen, together with his collaborators, are currently testing immunogens designed to induce effective antibody responses against gp41 MPER.

November 2009


Yufei Wang, PhD

King’s College London, UK
Nominated by Dr. Thomas Lehner

Dr. Yufei Wang graduated from Wuhan Tongji Medical School in China and received his PhD from the University College London in the UK. After compIetion of his PhD, Dr. Wang joined Department of Immunnology, at Guy’s hospital, King’s College London. Dr. Wang was introduced into the field of mucosal immunology and HIV vaccine research by Prof. Thomas Lehner. In 2003 he was appointed as senior research fellow at King’s College London.

He started his research work on induction of protective mucosal immunity against HIV infection through various mucosal routes of immunization developed by Lehner’s group.Dr. Wang expanded his research interests into the field of microbial heat shock protein 70 immunobiology and protection against HIV infection by allogeneic immunity. He completed several MRC (UK), European Union and NIH funded HIV vaccine research projects and most recently, as a co-principle investigator, completed a study on combining microbicidal-immunizing strategy and up-regulating innate immunity in prevention of HIV infection.

The CAVD consortium directed by Prof. Thomas Lehner aims to use allogeneic immunity to protect against HIV infetion in human. The group has constructed recombinant HLA molecule based HIV vaccines and is investigating the protective effect on SHIV infection in macaques. This project involves both in vivo immunization and the in vitro studies of immune correlate of protection against HIV infection. Dr. Wang is particularly interested in the induction of the innate anti-HIV factor APOBEC 3G production by allogeneic antigens. This was demonstrated in in vitro studies that MLR allogeneic stimulation and the recombinant HLA molecules upregulate APOBEC 3G production in human CD4+ T cells and inhibit HIV replication. Upregulation of APOBEC 3G was also demonstrated in vivo by immunization with HLA antigens. The role of APOBEC 3G in vaccine induced protection against HIV infection is currently under investigation.

Adel Benlahrech, PhD

Imperial College London, UK
Nominated by Dr. Steven Patterson

Dr. Adel Benlahrech received his Ph.D. in Immunology from Imperial College London in 2006, after completing a B.Sc. degree in Immunology at King’s College London in 2002. Under the supervision of Dr. Steve Patterson at Imperial College, he studied the effects of HIV-1 infection on dendritic cell (DC) subsets and the potential use of DC in HIV-1 therapeutic vaccination. His research identified a number of DC abnormalities, both numerical and functional, in HIV-1 patients that are not restored by anti-retroviral therapy.

Dr. Benlahrech joined the Patterson-led Vaccine Discovery Consortium (VDC) as a research associate in 2007. This consortium aims to develop a T cell vaccine which targets skin Langerhans cells through the use of micro-needle patches that are loaded with rAD5 vectors in order to stimulate both mucosal and systemic T cell responses against HIV-1.

Dr. Benlahrech’s work within the Patterson VDC is focused primarily on developing a human in vitro model for the generation of gag-specific memory CD8 T cell. This model is aimed at identifying the effect of ubiquitination and gene fragmentation on increasing the breadth and magnitude of anti-HIV T cell responses. These proof of concept strategies will be tested in non-human primates, and ultimately in clinical trials. Dr. Benlahrech was also involved in identifying possible causes for the recent failure of the phase IIb HIV-1 trial known as STEP. He showed that vaccination of Ad5 seropositive individuals with adenoviral vectors induces expansion of CD4 T cells with a mucosal homing phenotype, which are susceptible to HIV-1 infection, thus providing a possible explanation for the increased incidence of HIV-1 acquisition in vaccinated individuals with pre-existing immunity to Ad5.

October 2009


Sylvie Le Gall, PhD

Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard, US
Nominated by Dr. Bruce Walker

Dr. Sylvie Le Gall obtained her Ph.D. in Virology from the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France. After a postdoctoral fellowship in biochemistry at Harvard Medical School, she joined the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard directed by Dr. Bruce Walker, where she is currently an Assistant Professor.

Dr. Le Gall’s laboratory focuses on understanding the mechanisms of degradation of HIV proteins into epitopes presented to the immune system. The team is interested in identifying epitopes processed and presented by HIV-infected cells, defining rules driving the processing of HIV epitopes, and also establishing potential links between the efficiency of epitope processing and the specificity, timing, and functionality of HIV-specific immune responses.

The CAVD consortium directed by Pr. Walker aims to identify correlates of spontaneous immune protection and their implications for immunogen design. For the Walker Vaccine Discovery Consortium, the group is comparing how HIV epitopes are processed in cells from HIV-infected persons who spontaneously control viremia (controllers) or from progressors, and assessing if any step in this process may contribute to spontaneous immune control. Additionally through a combination of biochemical and computational approaches, the team is identifying sequence signatures leading to efficient or inefficient processing of MHC-I-restricted epitopes. The consortium eventually aims to design portable motifs that could be used to alter and control the production of epitopes from HIV immunogens.

For Jim Mullins’ laboratory the group is testing the production of HIV epitopes from a computationally designed immunogen that includes conserved elements of HIV proteome, while other members of the team are assessing the immunogenicity of the constructs in animal models.

Daniel Zak, PhD

Institute for Systems Biology, US
Nominated by Dr. M. Juliana McElrath

Dr. Daniel Zak received his Ph. D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 2006. He trained under Dr. Babatunde Ogunnaike at Delaware and Dr. James Schwaber at the Daniel Baugh Institute for Functional Genomics and Computational Biology at Thomas Jefferson University. He researched computational modeling and analysis of mammalian transcriptional regulatory networks, developing methods for the discovery of networks from microarray data and analyzing gene networks controlling circadian rhythms.

Upon completion of his graduate work, Dr. Zak joined Dr. Alan Aderem’s lab at the Institute for Systems Biology, where he is currently a Research Scientist. Dr. Zak applies global measurement techniques such as microarrays and genome-wide location analysis to study regulation of innate immune responses in macrophages and dendritic cells. He is investigating mechanisms of cross-talk between Toll-like receptor (TLR) pathways and how it gives rise to specificity in the innate immune response. He also employs exon-level gene expression profiling to identify novel gene isoforms that modulate TLR responses.

Since 2007, Dr. Zak has worked with Dr. Aderem as part of the CAVD Vaccine Discovery Consortium led by Dr. M. Juliana McElrath, which seeks to understand how innate immune activation controls vaccine-induced immunity. By integrating systems-level measurements of the gene expression responses induced by numerous candidate vaccines with the vaccine-induced immune responses, Dr. Zak aims to identify innate immune signatures for enhanced immunogenicity. These signatures can then be used to identify genes and pathways to be targeted in the next generation of AIDS vaccines.

September 2009


William Schief, PhD

University of Washington, US
Nominated by Dr. Leo Stamatatos

Dr. William Schief obtained his Ph. D. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2000, after obtaining a B. S. degree in Applied Mathematics from Yale University. At the University of Washington, he trained in experimental nuclear physics with Dr. Eric Adelberger, soft condensed matter physics with Dr. Viola Vogel (two dimensional phase transitions of lipids and proteins), biological physics with Dr. Jonathon Howard (mechano-chemical coupling of the motor protein kinesin), and finally in computational structural biology with Dr. David Baker (protein structure prediction and design). During his postdoc with Dr. Baker, Dr. Schief developed methods for scaffolding of protein epitopes, initially in collaboration with Peter Kwong who first suggested the idea, and Rich Wyatt, and soon after in collaboration with Leo Stamatatos and Roland Strong for the CAVD.

Dr. Schief became a Research Assistant Professor in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Washington in 2007. His lab focuses on the design of immunogens to elicit broadly-neutralizing antibodies against HIV, with research programs for the Stamatatos Vaccine Discovery Consortium (VDC) and as an Investigator in the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative's Neutralizing Antibody Consortium. The lab develops computational methods for immunogen design ("scaffolding", "resurfacing", "remodeling"), employs various surface display technologies for antigen optimization, and is working on virus-like particles and liposomes for immune presentation. For the Stamatatos VDC the work is focused on eliciting antibodies against the 4e10 epitope and the cd4-binding site. For 4e10, the lab designed soluble epitope-scaffolds stabilizing the 4e10 helical epitope, coupled them to HepBcore particles for immune focusing, and is currently using similar methods to graft the 4e10 epitope into membrane proteins. For the cd4bs, the lab is working on both transplantation of the complex cd4 epitope to non-HIV scaffolds, and on trimming and remodeling gp120 itself.

Dr. Timothy Cardozo, MD, PhD

New York University School of Medicine, US
Nominated by Dr. Suzan Zolla-Pazner

Dr. Timothy Cardozo is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at NYU School of Medicine (NYUSOM). He is an active clinician and computational structural biologist specializing in drug and vaccine design, protein engineering and interdisciplinary research. Because of his diverse background in liberal arts, medicine, surgery, biophysics, chemistry and computer science, Dr. Cardozo has been recognized for interdisciplinary research and innovation with a 2008 NIH Director's New Innovator Award. He has published over 25 papers in 10 different fields: bioinformatics, molecular modeling, structural biology, immunology/virology, dermatology, genomics, pharmacology, cell biology, cancer biology and microbiology. At NYUSOM, he serves as Graduate Advisor to the Computational Biology Program and directs a graduate course in drug design. He currently serves on the Young and Early Career Investigator Committee for the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, and has served on the NYUSOM Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the NYUSOM Innovative Investigators Committee. In addition, he was NYU's first Webmaster and built one of the first interactive web sites in New York City in the early 1990s. Dr. Cardozo is the Activity Leader of the team of researchers charged with structure-based immunogen design of a neutralizing antibody vaccine for the Zolla-Pazner VDC of the CAVD. He was the author of a recent CAVD-funded research publication estimating the worldwide incidence of specific neutralizing antibody epitopes in circulating HIV viruses (Cardozo et. al., ARHR, 2009).

August 2009


Christine Trumpfheller, PhD

The Rockefeller University, US
Nominated by Dr. Ralph Steinman, Grand Challanges in Global Health

Dr. Christine Trumpfheller completed her PhD at the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg, where she evaluated the cytokine and chemokine response in lymphoid tissue from HIV-infected individuals.

Dr. Trumpfheller joined Dr. Steinman’s laboratory at the Rockefeller University in New York as a postdoctoral fellow in 2001. She first studied the role of the C-type lectin DC-SIGN in binding and transmission of infectious HIV-1 from dendritic cells (DCs) to T lymphocytes. Dr. Trumpfheller is currently leading the preclinical team for HIV vaccine development in the Steinman laboratory that exploits the pivotal role of DCs in initiating adaptive immunity. Vaccine proteins are selectively delivered to maturing DCs in intact lymphoid tissues by antibodies to DEC-205/CD205, a receptor for antigen presentation. Her studies in mice using an anti-DEC-205 HIV gag p24 fusion antibody established the rationale for dendritic cell targeting to achieve strong CD4+ Th1 type T cell immunity that is durable, broad and capable of providing protective immunity. Her research also identified synthetic double stranded RNA, such as polyriboinosinic:polyribocytidylic (poly IC), as an effective adjuvant for a DC-targeted vaccine. In addition, Dr. Trumpfheller has helped to guide the translation of her work into humans, working with the clinical team on all aspects of regulatory submission.  The DEC-205 vaccine platform for the delivery of HIV antigens will be tested in a proof of concept study in healthy volunteers.

Laurent Verkoczy, PhD

Duke Human Vaccine Institute, US
Nominated by Dr. Barton Haynes

Dr. Laurent Verkoczy obtained his Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Toronto in 2000, where he studied human immunoglobulin genetics in Dr. Neil Berinstein’s laboratory.  His graduate research was focused on the regulation of the Recombination Activating Genes (RAG1/RAG2), as well as identifying novel genes co-expressed with these lymphoid-restricted enzymes.

Following his graduate studies, Dr. Verkoczy trained as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. David Nemazee at the Scripps Research Institute, where he studied the molecular events determining negative and positive selection of B cells in the bone marrow.  His research resulted in elucidating some of the key B cell receptor signaling pathways involved in regulating central B cell tolerance/receptor editing.

Dr. Verkoczy joined the Duke Human Vaccine Institute in 2005, where he is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine.  His lab is focused on using mouse models to identify viral and host determinants that impact B cell responses to the HIV-1 gp41 Membrane Proximal External Region (MPER).  Dr. Verkoczy’s work within the Haynes VDC is focused on identifying and manipulating immunoregulatory mechanisms controlling the production of MPER-specific broadly neutralizing antibodies.  His primary contribution has been to generate an array of knock-in mice expressing different portions of the MPER-specific bnAbs 2F5 and 4E10. 
He has completed the initial characterization of 2F5 VH knock-in mice, the first in this series of gene-targeted strains.  He is also further characterizing unusual, functional interactions that occur between B cell receptors and the gp41 MPER in a non-paratopic, allotype restricted fashion.

July 2009


Sunhee Lee, PhD

Duke University, US
Nominated by Dr. Norman Letvin

Dr. Sunhee Lee received her Ph.D. in 2001 from the University of Arizona, where she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Christina Kennedy. Her graduate studies and research were focused in the area of plant-microbe interactions. In particular, she researched symbiotic bacteria of sugarcane that synthesize and secrete plant growth hormones and fix nitrogen to boost sugarcane growth.

Following the completion of her graduate studies, Dr. Lee trained as a postdoctoral fellow in William Jacobs’ laboratory at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. In Dr. Jacob's laboratory, she researched the pathogenicity and immune responses of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and generated and tested several live TB vaccine candidates that were engineered by specific mutations in the genome of a virulent M. tuberculosis strain. Her research and collaborations resulted in the development of new TB candidate vaccines.

In 2007, Dr. Lee joined Duke University as an Assistant Professor at the Human Vaccine Institute. The Lee laboratory currently focuses its research on the development of safer and more effective vaccines and immunotherapeutics for use against drug-resistant TB strains. Additionally, Dr. Lee's laboratory develops recombinant mycobacteria vectors capable of eliciting strong immune responses to HIV. As a member of the Letvin rMycobacteria VDC, she identified a combination of a mycobacteria promoter and a secretion signal sequence with improved expression and secretion of transgene products. She also screened a library of mycobacteria mutants from which she has selected and characterized a set of mutants with enhanced immunogenicity.

Sandhya Vasan, MD

Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, US
Nominated by Dr. David Ho

Dr. Sandhya Vasan completed her undergraduate education in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before completing her MD at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard Medical School. After a residency in pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, she worked as a Henry Luce Foundation Fellow at the Communicable Disease Centre in Singapore, where she studied patterns of tuberculosis and HIV co-infection. In parallel, she worked with the National University of Singapore to conduct public health surveillance studies in rural Indonesia.

Dr. Vasan joined the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and the Rockefeller University in New York in 2002. Under the leadership of Dr. David Ho, she has focused her efforts on clinical vaccine development, and helped establish and conduct two Phase I clinical trials of ADVAX, a clade B’/C DNA-based vaccine, and ADMVA, a matched MVA-based vaccine. Since the inception of the Ho CAVD Vaccine Discovery Consortium, Dr. Vasan has led the effort to assess the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of ADVAX when delivered by the TriGridTM in vivo electroporation device in healthy volunteers. She presented results at the AIDS Vaccine 2008 conference demonstrating that the procedure is both safe and tolerable, and is now working to complete the trial by the fall of 2009 to complete key studies on immunogenicity in conjunction with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Koup CAVD T-cell Vaccine Immune Monitoring Consortium. In addition, Dr. Vasan is leading the effort to advance a novel and potent glycolipid adjuvant identified by Dr. Moriya Tsuji into a Phase I clinical trial.



2016 Early Career Investigators

To view the honorees that occured in 2016, click the following link: 2016 Early Career Investigators

2015 Early Career Investigators

To view the honorees that occured in 2015, click the following link: 2015 Early Career Investigators

2014 Early Career Investigators

To view the honorees that occured in 2014, click the following link: 2014 Early Career Investigators

2013 Early Career Investigators

To view the honorees that occured in 2013, click the following link: 2013 Early Career Investigators

2012 Early Career Investigators

To view the honorees that occured in 2012, click the following link: 2012 Early Career Investigators

2011 Early Career Investigators

To view the honorees that occured in 2011, click the following link: 2011 Early Career Investigators

2010 Early Career Investigators

To view the honorees that occured in 2010, click the following link: 2010 Early Career Investigators

2009 Early Career Investigators

To view the honorees that occured in 2009, click the following link: 2009 Early Career Investigators

For general questions about the CAVD or the content of the these pages, please contact
For technical issues with the website, please contact