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Human Immunology

Human Immunology research is one of the main focuses at the Emory Vaccine Center. A number of our approaches are outlined below.

The long-term goal of the NIAID Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense (CCHI) program is the translation of research into clinical applications in humans. Dr. Rafi Ahmed is the Principal Investigator for the CCHI multi-center program “Vaccine Induced Immunity In The Young And Aged” which was initially awarded to him in 2003. One focus of this program is to understand how a successful vaccine, yellow fever 17-D (YFV-17D) works and to use this knowledge to design strategies for enhancing vaccine efficacy including in the elderly. At Emory this program is collaboration between Drs. Ahmed, and Pulendran’s group, and the Emory Hope Clinic (Drs. Mulligan and Edupuganti).

The Emory Vaccine Center is one of the research sites for the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID) based at Scripps. The overall mission of the Scripps CHAVI-ID is to define immunogens and immunization regimens that induce sustained HIV cross-protective B cell and CD4+ T cell responses and guide product development strategies for a preventive human AIDS vaccine. Dr. Rafi Ahmed, the team leader for Research Focus 2, along with Drs. Bali Pulendran, and Guido Silvestri are working together to harness the CD4 T cell responses for long-term protective immunity against HIV.

The Human Immunology Project Consortium (HIPC) program was established in 2010 by the NIAID to focus on human immunology. Dr. Bali Pulendran is the Program leader for the HIPC Center at Emory University which focuses on determining the extent to which a systems biology approach will have broad utility in predicting the immunogenicity of other vaccines, and in identifying new correlates of protective immunity. This is being done in cohorts of young adults and the elderly. Three distinct vaccines are being studied: (i) the inactivated trivalent influenza vaccine, (ii) the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine and (iii) the live attenuated varicella-zoster vaccine. Drs. Ahmed and others are working with Dr. Pulendran on these studies.

Emory Vaccine Center is a part of two multi-center human Influenza research programs. It is one of the sites for the NIAID Centers for Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS). Drs. Ahmed, Pulendran, and Altman at the EVC have been working together to understand the interplay between innate and adaptive immunity to influenza infection and vaccination in humans using a systems biological approach and also to provide insight into the mechanisms that regulate the duration of humoral immunity to influenza virus.  In another multi-center study Dr. Ahmed is working with Peter Palese’s group at Mt. Sinai to develop a universal influenza vaccine that generates long-lived protective immunity by identifying and incorporating epitopes of the hemagglutinin that mediate broad virus neutralization into an influenza vaccine.