CRC Seminar Series: "Vaccination and the challenge of highly-mutable pathogens for vaccine design"
Once it infects a cell, HIV-1 mutates at an exceptionally high rate. In addition, the HIV-1 genome integrates into the genome of the infected cell, allowing the virus to persist in a dormant state for long periods. While infected people can produce an effective immune response that clears the initial virus, its ability to hide from immune recognition, and to produce mutant offspring at a high frequency, allows the emergence of mutant viruses that can escape an on-going immune response. Typically, a new immune response is mounted to clear those mutants, but by the time it has done so, another wave of new mutants arises, and escapes the new immune response; this presents a huge challenge to the design of a vaccine that elicits protective immunity. My presentation will cover how vaccination works, and several different the projects my laboratory has undertaken over the years to design vaccines that will target highly-conserved sites on the virus.
Dr. Jamie Kathleen Scott completed with honors her undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA, and her Ph.D. degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia under the supervision of Professor George P. Smith. She held post-doctoral positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Missouri-Columbia, and The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Scott joined Simon Fraser University in 1993 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry, and Member of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Currently, she holds a joint appointment in the Faculty of Health Science and the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Among other scientific activities, Dr. Scott has published multiple scientific papers, has organized numerous international scientific meetings, and has been a member of editorial boards and reviewer for a number of scientific journals. In her scientific career Dr. Scott has been the recipient of multiple grants, and was recently awarded a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Molecular Immunity. Dr. Scott describes her research goals in the following way: "One of our most interesting projects centers on developing peptides that will bind to the human monoclonal antibodies that abolish the infectivity of HIV-1. We hope to create a vaccine that will elicit these same antibodies in uninfected people, and thus protect them from AIDS."