Julie McElrath, MD, PhD

Julie McElrath, MD, PhD

Dr. Julie McElrath is Principal Investigator and Director of the HVTN Laboratory Center and the Seattle-Lausanne Clinical Trials Unit. She is a Senior Vice President and Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Professor, Departments of Medicine, Laboratory Medicine and Global Health, University of Washington; Director of the FHCRC Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, and directs their Immunology and Vaccine Development Program. Dr. McElrath also has attending responsibilities on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Infectious Diseases consult service.

Her current research pursues a vaccine that will protect against HIV-1 infection, as well as investigating:

  • how components of T-cell immunity elicited early in HIV-1 infection contribute to control of HIV-1 disease,
  • what the influence of antiretroviral therapy is,
  • whether T-cell immune responses are involved in resistance to HIV-1 infection in persons at high-risk for HIV infection,
  • how antigen-specific mucosal T-cells protect against HIV-1 exposure,
  • what effect different adjuvants have on the quality and profile of the immune response to vaccination, and
  • what elements of immunity correlate with protection against HIV-1 infection by a preventive HIV vaccine.

Among her many accomplishments, Dr. McElrath has built and maintains a successful international HIV vaccine laboratory program, conducts translational immunological research in humans in a multicenter setting, contributes to the fundamental understanding of how HIV-1 enters the mucosa to establish infection, identifies persons with very low levels of HIV DNA who otherwise lack all evidence of infection, assembles invaluable cohorts from which to elucidate mechanisms of risk for HIV infection and disease, and productively mentors junior faculty, young investigators, and graduate students in their career paths. In conjunction with a highly productive research program, she has assumed a leadership role or been a major contributor in a number of integrated programs at the national and international levels to advance a coordinated effort to tackle the HIV epidemic through a range of prevention efforts: the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (PI and Director of the Laboratory Center), the Gates Foundation Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (PI and contributor to multiple groups), the Mucosal Immunology Group (PI), the Microbicide Trials Network (Director, Immunology Core), and the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise (Laboratory Working Group).

Dr. McElrath received her bachelor's degree from Furman University, Greenville, SC; her Ph.D. and M.D. degrees from the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston; her clinical training in infectious diseases at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York; and her post-doctoral training in molecular immunology at Rockefeller University in New York.