Dr. Derek Cain is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at Duke, the Director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute’s Flow Cytometry Facility, and Director of the Immunobiology Core for the Duke Center for HIV Structural Biology (DCHSB).
Dr. Cain will work with Dr. Persephone Borrow to provide expertise on immunoassays utilized within the projects and cores.
Dr. Cain’s lab focuses on the cellular and molecular pathways that promote adaptive immune responses to vaccination, with a particular focus on mechanisms involved in recruitment of antigen-specific B cells and CD4+ T cells into germinal centers. It is germinal centers that generate long-lived memory B cells as well as plasma cells secreting high affinity antibodies, which together afford enduring humoral protection against pathogens.
Dr. Cain’s research interests center on immune cell interactions, particularly those that take place within germinal centers during infection or following immunization. He is interested in lymphocyte interactions in the context of HIV vaccination and infection. The broadly-neutralizing anti-HIV envelope antibodies that arise in some infected patients are clearly products of germinal centers, yet it is unclear if current HIV vaccines recapitulate the immunological conditions that promote anti-envelope antibodies via germinal centers. His goal is to understand the cellular and molecular pathways that promote optimal immune responses to vaccination and to various microbial pathogens.