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Early Career Investigator Recognition

August 2011


Scott Hansen, Ph.D.

Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at OHSU, US
Nominated by Drs. Chris Parks and Louis Picker

Dr. Scott Hansen received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Oregon State University in 2001 under the mentorship of Dr. Dennis Hruby. After completing his degree, Dr. Hansen took a post-doctoral position in the laboratory of Dr. Jay Nelson at OHSU’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, located on the campus of the Oregon National Primate Research Center. Working with Dr. Nelson and Dr. Louis Picker, Dr. Hansen studied the Rhesus Cytomegalovirus (RhCMV) rhesus macaque model (RM) of infection, recombination, and immunobiology.

Dr. Hansen is currently an Assistant Scientist working with Dr. Picker. Together they have pioneered the idea of “effector memory” -biased T cell (TEM) vaccines. Specifically, their research has focused on the development of recombinant CMV vectors, which generate and maintain TEM responses. Using the RhCMV and RM model they have demonstrated that RhCMV/SIV vectors can super-infect RhCMV+ RM, and upon super-infection elicit potent, persistent, and broadly targeted SIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses with a strong TEM bias. In the prophylactic vaccine setting, these responses have completely protected ~50% of vaccinated RM from progressive infection after limiting dose rectal challenge with the highly pathogenic SIVmac239 virus. These data indicate a novel pattern of protection consistent with very early stringent control, followed by progressive clearance of residual viral reservoirs, likely CD8+ TEM-mediated.

Their current research is focused on designing and testing CMV vectors with genetically engineered restrictions in replication and dissemination/spread, with the goal to developing the safest CMV vectors with the greatest immunogenicity and protective capacity.

June 2011


Likai Song, Ph.D.

National High Magnet Field Laboratory, US
Nominated by Dr. Ellis Reinherz

Dr. Likai Song is an Assistant Scholar Scientist at the National High Magnet Field Laboratory (NHMFL) and a Research Associate at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Song is a physician as well as a structural biologist. He received his training in internal medicine and cardiology at Beijing 301 Hospital, and in structural biology at the NHMFL at Florida State University. Dr. Song is a member of the Reinherz VDC, and he is interested in using EPR (Electron Paramagnetic Resonance) and other structural tools to study the HIV envelope proteins and thereby derive optimized vaccine immunogens against HIV.

Dr. Song has characterized the structure and antibody-induced conformational changes of HIV envelope protein gp41. By using a combination of EPR techniques and other biophysical and immunological methods, Dr. Song found that broadly neutralizing antibodies targeting the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of the HIV gp41 envelope protein either changed the membrane orientation of the MPER or immobilize this region. Collectively, two distinct modes of antibody-mediated interference of the HIV infection were identified. These results have led to a novel HIV vaccine strategy currently being explored in the consortium.

May 2011


Sudhir Pai Kasturi, Ph.D.

Emory Vaccine Center, US
Nominated by Drs. Julie McElrath and Bali Pulendran

Dr. Sudhir Pai Kasturi received his Ph.D in biomedical engineering in May 2006 at The University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas under the mentorship of Dr. Krishnendu Roy. His graduate research focused on the development of polymer microparticles to enhance the immunogenicity of cancer DNA vaccines.

Dr. Kasturi is currently training as a post-doctoral research fellow in Dr. Bali Pulendran’s laboratory at the Emory Vaccine Center, in Atlanta. Their research has focused on applying key findings in innate immunity towards the rational design of adjuvants for protein vaccines. The live attenuated yellow fever vaccine (YF17D) induces long lasting immunity in humans. Previous work from their lab has demonstrated that YF17D stimulates multiple toll like receptors (TLRs) on dendritic cells (DCs). In an effort to mimic a live vaccine and recapitulate its efficacy, they have designed synthetic nanoparticle-based formulations that can deliver protein antigens and combinations of ligands for TLRs. Their study [Kasturi SP et al; Nature. 2011 Feb 24; 470{7335}] highlights the advantages of using a combination of TLR 4 and 7 specific ligands as adjuvants for protein antigens compared to use of individual TLR 4 or TLR 7 specific ligands in mice. They observed that the combined use of ligands for TLRs 4 and 7 led to synergistic increases in antigen specific neutralizing antibody responses that were of high avidity. Such combined TLR 4 and 7 targeting adjuvants with flu specific antigens led to complete protection in mice and induced robust immunity in non-human primates against the pandemic H1N1 Influenza A virus.

Their current research is focused on evaluating the potential of such nanoparticle based combined TLR targeting adjuvants in enhancing the immunogenicity of protein based HIV vaccines in non-human primates with potential implications for HIV vaccine design in humans.

April 2011


Hendrik Streeck, MD, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School, US
Nominated by Dr. Bruce Walker

Dr. Streeck is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Assistant Immunologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. He completed his medical training at Charite University, Berlin, Germany in 2006 and received his PhD from Friedrich-Wilhelm University, Bonn, Germany in 2007. He did his postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Marcus Altfeld on HIV-specific CD8+ T cell responses in acute infection and characterized changes in CD8+ T cell functionality and immunodominance patterns in the context of antigen load and viral escape. He was awarded the biennale HIV AIDS Award from the German-Austrian AIDS Society in 2009 for outstanding achievements in the field of HIV immunology and was subsequently recruited as Junior Faculty at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard.

Dr. Streeck’s laboratory focuses on the role and function of HIV-specific CD4 T cells in the context of spontaneously controlled HIV-1 infection and how these responses may be applied to HIV vaccine induced protection. CD4+ T cells are critical for the induction of long-lived CD8+ T cell and B cell memory, but are preferentially targeted and depleted by HIV. A significant dilemma in HIV vaccine design research is therefore how to provide these helper signals without enhancing the risk of HIV transmission. To address this, the Streeck laboratory investigates direct and indirect mechanisms of HIV-specific CD4 T cell antiviral activity, as well as examines basic questions relating to CD4 T cells and how they interact with the other cell types of the human immune system. Recent work from the laboratory has shown an important role for cytolytic HIV-specific CD4+ T cell responses in the early control of viral replication as well as specific immunodominance patterns that are enriched in individuals controlling HIV infection.

March 2011


David Kaufman, Ph.D.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, US
Nominated by Drs. Norm Letvin and Dan Barouch

Dr. David Kaufman is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a physician-scientist in the divisions of Vaccine Research and Infectious Diseases at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He received his M.D. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University, where he studied the molecular mechanisms of HIV nuclear import with Dr. David Ho and Dr. Mark Muesing. He trained in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and in infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. During his fellowship he joined the laboratory of Dr. Dan Barouch.

Dr. Kaufman’s research has focused on characterizing and optimizing mucosal immunity to HIV vaccines. He has demonstrated that intramuscular vaccination can activate peripheral T-lymphocytes to traffic to mucosal surfaces and establish long-lived memory (Kaufman et al. J Immunol 181: 4188-98). He has also evaluated the impact of immunization route on the phenotype and trafficking patterns of vaccine-elicited T-lymphocytes (Kaufman et al. J Virol 84:5764-74), and the impact of the route of antigenic challenge on the immune correlates of vaccine-elicited protection (Kaufman et al. J Virol 82: 6829-37).

Ongoing work has elucidated the molecular mechanisms underlying mucosal trafficking of vaccine-elicited lymphocytes, demonstrating that vitamin A deficiency profoundly impairs vaccine-elicited immunity in the gastrointestinal tract. Other collaborative studies aim to characterize mucosal T-lymphocyte differentiation using systems biology tools, to evaluate mechanisms for modulating the balance of vaccine-elicited effector and regulatory T-cells, and to utilize nanoparticle-based delivery systems to improve the mucosal immunogenicity of vaccines.

February 2011


Christina Ochsenbauer, Ph.D.

University of Alabama at Birmingham, US
Nominated by Dr. David Montefiori

Dr. Christina Ochsenbauer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at UAB. She obtained her Masters and Ph.D. from Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg, Germany, and conducted her thesis work on HIV-1 Vif at the German Cancer Research Center’s Applied Tumor Virology department under the leadership of Dr. Harald zur Hausen. As a postdoc, she trained with Dr. Eric Hunter, studying Rous Sarcoma Virus.

Her current research focuses on HIV-1 molecular pathogenesis as it relates to transmission and prevention. Novel virologic tools and ‘closer-to-life’ model systems are prerequisites for elucidating mechanisms operative in HIV-1 mucosal transmission, and prevention thereof. In collaboration with Dr. John Kappes and CHAVI, she has generated the first infectious molecular clones (IMC) of HIV-1 that represent complete genomes of actual transmitted/founder viruses; this highly relevant panel of T/F IMC may inform vaccine strategies.

Complementing studies of T/F viruses, Dr. Ochsenbauer recently described novel replication-competent IMC, encoding a genetically stable reporter gene, into which reference env genes can be ‘shuttled’ for analysis (Edmonds et at, 2009). The work aims to augment HIV-1 immune monitoring assays employing primary target cells and assays requiring viral replication. Within the Montefiori CA-VIMC, Dr. Ochsenbauer directs the IMC Core at UAB, generating reporter IMC panels expressing env genes of various clades. These panels supports central initiatives within the CA-VIMC for standardization of PBMC-based HIV-1 neutralization assays, the screening of patient and vaccine sera (including those from RV144) for neutralizing antibodies, and the development of cell-based virus inhibition assays, and other activities.



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

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