Shelby O'Connor, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin
Title: "Defining the need for epitope-specific CD8 T cells in a successful HIV vaccine"
Description: The sequence of the proteins present in a successful HIV vaccine will naturally be different from transmitted viruses. We are using a non-human primate model of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection to determine whether a vaccine can be successful under these conditions. We are exploring whether protection offered to non-human primates by vaccination with a weakened strain of SIV can be broken if the sequences of certain proteins are different between the vaccine and challenge viruses. Successful completion of this project will identify whether the immune response generated by an HIV vaccine needs to specifically recognize the proteins in the transmitted virus to offer protection.
Mentors: Dr. David O'Connor (University of Wisconsin-Madison); I have been working with David O'Connor for 3 years trying to understand SIV pathogenesis in Mauritian cynomolgus macaques. The genetics of Mauritian macaques are an important component of this study design, and we will be working with Mauritian macaques in the vaccine portion of this study. Dr. O'Connor's expertise in this field is key to help us guide our work with this model. Dr. Esper Kallas (Federal University of Sao Paulo); Dr. Kallas has a clinical trials research team in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Learning about HIV vaccine trials from Dr. Kallas will help ensure that we are asking questions in the non-human primate model that are relevant to ongoing HIV vaccine clinical trials.