Antibodies are one of the immune system’s main counteroffensives to viral and bacterial infections, such as SARS-CoV-2, Lyme borrelia, Salmonella, cholera, and pertussis. Antibodies are also responsible for neutralizing toxins like tetanus and ricin. Antibodies are present at high levels in blood and interstitial fluids of all tissues and visceral organs. In addition, subsets of antibodies are actively transported into saliva, breast milk, and mucosal secretions that line the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. Once established, antibodies can persist for years and serve at the frontline against airborne, foodborne and vector borne diseases. Indeed, the goal of virtually all modern vaccines is to elicit high-titer neutralizing and protective antibodies in circulation and/or mucosal compartments.
However, harnessing the power of antibodies through vaccination is not trivial, as much remains to be learned about where antibodies engage with their targets and how such interactions result in immunity. Research in our lab seeks to understand the structural, molecular, and cellular basis by which antibodies confer immunity to viral and bacterial pathogens and neutralize biological toxins. We are interested in B cell epitopes, monoclonal (MAb) and single-domain (VHH) antibodies, mucosal vaccines and antibody-based passive immunization strategies. We have partnerships with academic and biopharmaceutical groups in all realms of vaccinology.