May 13, 2020

DHVI Investigator Receives R21 grant


Congratulations to Dr. Genevieve Fouda on receiving an R21 grant entitled, “Molecular signatures of broad neutralization in HIV infected children”.

The burden of HIV among adolescents and young adults remains high with more than 30% of new HIV infections globally occurring among youth ages 15 to 24 years, making this a critical target population for prevention strategies. While induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is a major goal for an HIV vaccine, none of the candidate vaccines tested to date has been able to generate this sort of response.

Recent studies have indicated that HIV infected children develop broad neutralizing antibodies earlier and more frequently than adults. Moreover, contrary to adults in which neutralization breadth is usually mediated by bnAbs of one or two specificities, in the majority of children, neutralization appeared to be mediated by a polyclonal response. This suggests that different mechanisms could drive the development of neutralization breadth in children and adults. 

In their study, Dr. Fouda and team propose to test the hypothesis that a distinct host transcriptional profile is associated with the development of HIV-specific antibody neutralization breadth in early life, using archived, longitudinal samples from HIV-infected children. This study will enhance our current understanding on the kinetics of neutralization breadth development in HIV-infected children and provide novel insights on the molecular pathways leading to neutralization breadth development early in life. Altogether, this new information will guide the development of HIV vaccine strategies designed to protect prior to sexual debut.

Dr. Fouda will be collaborating with Dr. Wilton Williams (DHVI), Dr. Richard Barefield from the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and Dr. Todd Bradley, a former DHVI faculty. Dr. Ashley Nelson, a CTSA TL1 postdoctoral scholar, co-mentored by Drs. Sallie Permar and Fouda will be a co-investigator.