Dr. Kevin O. Saunders graduated from Davidson College in 2005 with a bachelor of science in biology. At Davidson College, he trained in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Hales identifying the genetic basis of infertility. Dr. Saunders completed his doctoral research on CD8+ T cell immunity against HIV-1 infection with Dr. Georgia Tomaras at Duke University in 2010. He subsequently trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Drs. Gary Nabel and John Mascola at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center.
In 2014, Dr. Saunders joined the faculty at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute as a medical instructor. In this role, he analyzed antibody responses in vaccinated macaques, which led to the identification of glycan-dependent HIV antibodies induced by vaccination. Dr. Saunders was appointed as a non-tenure track Assistant Professor of Surgery and the Director of the Laboratory of Protein Expression in the Duke Human Vaccine Institute in 2015. He successfully transitioned to a tenure-track appointment in 2018 and was later promoted to the rank of Associate Professor in Surgery in 2020.
He currently serves as the Director of Research for the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Dr. Saunders has given invited lectures at international conferences such as HIVR4P and the Keystone Symposia for HIV Vaccines. He has authored book chapters and numerous journal articles and holds patents on vaccine design concepts and antiviral antibodies. As a faculty member at Duke, Dr. Saunders has received the Duke Human Vaccine Institute Outstanding Leadership Award and the Norman Letvin Center For HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery Outstanding Investigator Award. His current research interests include vaccine and antibody development to combat HIV-1 and coronavirus infections.