Juliana Qin

Development of Next-Generation Immunogens Targeting HIV-1

Project Abstract

Although various drug therapies have been developed to treat HIV, an effective vaccine has not yet been developed. This project will consider how the antibody response can be optimized by structure-based design of novel HIV-1 immunogens, and immunization in small animal models. A further focus of the project will be on assessing antibody responses to immunization using computational fingerprinting techniques that streamline serum analysis by predicting antibody-epitope specificity directly from antibody-antigen functional assays. With a better understanding of where the immunogen-elicited antibodies bind and how their binding affects neutralization, an immunogen can be further optimized to elicit an antibody response that can neutralize a majority of HIV viruses.

Training Plan

Juliana Qin’s project incorporates computational biology, protein biochemistry, and immunology to design and assess vaccine candidates. As such, she would benefit from mentorship from faculty that excel in computational and experimental research. The primary faculty member, Dr. Ivelin Georgiev, has extensive experience in vaccine design and will oversee her training to arrive at vaccine candidates (HIV-1 immunogens). Under Dr. Georgiev, Ms. Qin will learn how to express and purify immunogens and other proteins as well as implement computational biology techniques developed by Dr. Georgiev.  The secondary faculty mentor, Dr. James Crowe, will provide insights into assessing the antibody response to the HIV-1 immunogens catalyzing iterative rounds of optimization to candidate immunogens. The combined expertise of Dr. Georgiev and Dr. Crowe are perfectly suited for Ms. Qin’s project, and will enable the development of new technological advances in the field of HIV-1 vaccinology that should also be applicable to vaccine development against other viral targets.


Primary: Ivelin Georgiev

Secondary: Jim Crowe

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Summer Immersion 2018