Vaccines offer one of the most effective public health strategies against diseases. Vaccines are generally safe, highly effective and affordable. Unfortunately, there are no effective vaccines against HIV or TB and therefore the control of these diseases in resource-limited settings is problematic. Our research goals are to understand how the immune system fights off persistent infections such HIV and TB and to how the pathogens in turn evade or adapt to continuous immune pressure. We also study non-immune host/pathogen interactions that may explain heterogeneity of clinical outcomes following exposure to the pathogen or infection. Ultimately, we hope to use this knowledge to aid rational vaccine or therapeutics design against these two major killer diseases as well as other pathogens.
Our overarching goal is to understand how HIV and TB are able to persist and replicate in the face of a hostile host immune system. Our laboratory focuses on individuals who remain HIV negative despite exposure to the virus and those infected who achieve some level of viral control without the help of antiretroviral therapies. These individuals may hold the key to vaccine development or novel therapies. Our approach is to understand how innate and adaptive immune responses may prevent people from getting infected or lead to durable viral control in those already infected. We also interrogate the mechanisms that ultimately lead to loss of viral control and disease progression. In the laboratory, we utilize techniques in virology, immunology, molecular biology and genetics to help us understand the complex interaction between the virus and the host. We place emphasis on biomedical research excellence, innovative thinking and capacity building for scientific discoveries likely to benefit resource-limited settings and address Africa’s public health problems.
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