The Williams laboratory focuses on B cell repertoire analyses in humans, and neonate and adult rhesus macaques. Current studies use B cell isolation strategies, and molecular and computational biology techniques to study the genetic and functional properties of recombinant antibodies derived from single B cells. These studies aim to understand the properties of antibodies as well as the immunological milieu that facilitates the induction of these antibodies in the setting of human-HIV-1 or macaque-SHIV infection in order to inform vaccine designs that may generate protective antibody responses.
More recently, the Williams laboratory supports the CHAVD program by probing the B cell repertoire at baseline in HIV-1 naïve humans with a goal of defining candidate precursor B cells that share similar properties with HIV-1 Envelope (Env) broadly neutralizing antibody responses (bnAbs). These studies will also be applied to immune monitoring of HIV-1 Env vaccine clinical trials in order to define the origin and nature of vaccine-induced antibody responses, and determine if they may be capable of protecting individuals from acquisition of HIV-1 infection.
The impact of the microbiome on shaping immune responses to diseases and vaccination is an emerging area of research. Our previous work was the first to implicate the microbiome in impacting vaccine-induced antibody responses in a human HIV-1 efficacy trial. Thus, the Williams laboratory has a continued interest in evaluating how host and environmental antigens, including gut microbiota, may influence immune responses to HIV-1 Env vaccines.
DHVI Viral Genetics Analysis Core Group
The DHVI Viral Genetics Analysis group uses sequencing and genomic technologies to serve the needs of the Duke Community and external collaborators. The technologies provided by this group support several studies related to viral pathogenesis and immunity. In addition, the group supports the work of the IVQAC and EQAPOL contracts under the leadership of Tom Denny.