The laboratory is interested in cellular immune responses to chronic viral infections. Viruses with large genomes, such as herpes simplex virus, are complex with regards to the identification of antigens and epitopes recognized by virus-specific T-cells. Expression cloning techniques based on molecular libraries of viral DNA have been developed to address this complexity. Several viruses such as herpes simplex and vaccinia specifically infect skin and genital mucosa. We are studying the expression of molecules involved in T-cell trafficking to sites of infection. Clinical research in the lab includes trials and immunogenicity evaluation of candidate HSV vaccine compounds. Recently, studies have expanded to detailed analyses of the receptor repertoires of pathogen-specific T cells, and of T cells reactive with small-genome oncogenic viruses. The overall goal is to determine immunologic and other host determinants of disease severity and to contribute to the design of effective vaccines for HSV, other STI including syphilis, and other viral infections and viral cancers.
David M. Koelle, MD