Matthew Gardner, PhD

Matthew Gardner, PhD

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Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Emory School of Medicine Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Emory School of Medicine Researcher, Division of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory National Primate Research Center Researcher

Dr. Gardner received his Bachelor of Science in Immunology and Infectious Disease from Penn State University and completed his honors thesis in Dr. Kelli Hoover’s lab researching gypsy moth baculovirus. He received his PhD in Virology from Harvard University completing his thesis research in Dr. Michael Farzan’s lab characterizing HIV inhibitors. He continued his training in Dr. Farzan’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL, where he worked on engineering adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors to deliver HIV inhibitors to protect rhesus macaques from SHIV and SIV infection. From 2016-2018, he was an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Fellow. He also is a co-founder for Emmune, Inc., a start-up biotech company developing eCD4-Ig (an HIV entry inhibitor Dr. Gardner worked on as a graduate student).


Dr. Gardner’s lab focuses on developing AAV vectors to be used to prevent and treat HIV and other diseases. One challenge that using AAV vectors to treat disease is the host immune response. We have seen in our non-human primate studies how detrimental the host immune response can be when delivering therapies with AAV vectors. To fully evaluate the efficacy of AAV-delivered inhibitors as therapies, we seek to engineer the AAV vector system to evade the host immune response and consistently reach therapeutic concentrations of the inhibitor in the plasma. We also routinely develop new AAV transgene cassettes to improve the expression of inhibitors in non-human primates. Our goal is to have a system that accurately predicts how well an AAV vector will work in clinical trials based on data generated in non-human primates. Initially we are pursuing the use of AAV vectors to deliver anti-HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies and inhibitors to suppress SHIV and SIV infections in non-human primates as an alternative to daily antiretroviral therapy. Should this work, AAV vectors delivering HIV inhibitors could be viewed as a “one-shot cure”. Additionally, once we have a system that consistently works, we will apply it to other infectious diseases.
A second area of research in his lab is investigating ways to improve gene delivery. One possibility is through creating and characterizing new AAV capsids that improve cellular transduction and efficiently deliver the AAV transgene to the nucleus of cells. Another approach is through engineering other gene delivery vectors. Using alternatives to AAV vectors could help reduce the burden on developing new AAV capsids that circumvent the preexisting immune response against traditional AAV capsids used in the gene therapy field.