Page Title

Research Questions


Major research interests

  • Rapid response vaccines/ diagnostics and vaccine delivery

  • Antibody-based immunodominance in vaccine-induced immunity

  • The virome and its influence on vaccine efficacy



Rapid-response vaccines

Over 80% of the increasing number of newly emerging animal and human viral infections during the last few decades are caused by RNA viruses. In contrast to conventional vaccines, which can have an extended lead development time, rapid-response vaccines are quickly developed and easy to scale up and deploy. Recognizing the need for improved technology for emergency vaccines, and in response to the swine coronavirus (porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV)) outbreak in the U.S. in 2014, we have developed novel first and next-generation methods for rapid response vaccine development. Complementary efforts are targeted toward improving the stability and delivery of rapid-response vaccines to stimulate strong maternal immunity and the passive transfer of antibodies via milk to protect against neonatal infection. 


Epitope-based immunization/ diagnostic test development

The induction of immunodominant antibody responses to off-center targets is usually an elegant mechanism by which viruses evade the host's immune system. Our current efforts are focused on guiding rational vaccine design using “protective antigenic epitope maps” of vaccine antigens to re-engineer them rationally, with the goal of either improving the performance of suboptimal vaccines or developing vaccines for agents with weak and delayed virus-neutralizing antibody responses. The mapped epitopes are also applied for rapid response serological assay development.

Effect of extraneous agents on vaccine efficacy

Torque Teno Viruses (TTVs) are ubiquitous viruses that infect most mammals within a few months of birth in a species-specific manner and are considered a part of the mammalian virome. They are epidemiologically associated with several diseases, including respiratory infections, auto-immune disorders, and hepatitis, contaminating biologicals. With the long-term goals of understanding how they influence disease, health, and vaccine-mediated immunity, our current efforts are focused on developing tools to study TTVs in vitro and in vivo.