Thumbi Ndung’u is a Kenyan-born HIV/AIDS researcher. He is the Deputy Director (Science) and a Max Planck Research Group Leader at the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) in Durban, South Africa. He is Professor of Infectious Diseases in the Division of Immunity and Infection, University College London. He is Professor and Victor Daitz Chair in HIV/TB Research and Scientific Director of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He holds the South African Research Chair in Systems Biology of HIV/AIDS. He is an Adjunct Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is the Programme Director of the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (SANTHE), a research and capacity building initiative funded by the African Academy of Sciences and the Wellcome Trust.
Ndung’u attended Gathugu Primary School in Kiambu, Kenya and Nyeri High School, Nyeri, Kenya. He graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and obtained a PhD in Biological Sciences in Public Health from Harvard University, United States. As a graduate student, he worked with Max Essex at Harvar. He was also a Postdoctoral Fellow in Virology at Harvard Medical School. He is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and a fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). He has been a member of the External Advisory Board of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cape Town HVTN Immunology Laboratory (CHIL), a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Poliomyelitis Research Foundation and a member of the advisory board of the Global Health and Vaccination Research Programme (GLOBVAC), The Research Council of Norway. He was Co-Chair of the Young and Early Career Investigators Committee (YECIC) of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise from 2008 to 2010 that worked on the Enterprise’s five-year strategic plan.
Ndung’u was the first scientist to clone infectious HIV subtype C and has received numerous awards for his scientific and scholarly contributions. The awards include:
His research interests are host-pathogen interactions, particularly immune mechanisms of HIV and TB control. He has co-authored more than 200 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals. He has made seminal contributions on our understanding of how virus-host interactions lead to immune-mediated mechanisms of HIV control, which has implications for immune-based prophylactic and therapeutic strategies against the virus. He has received grant funding from the South African National Research Foundation, the South African Medical Research Council, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the European Union, the African Academy of Sciences and the Wellcome Trust among others. He is leading a multidisciplinary team of researchers working in the fields of HIV and TB immunopathogenesis, vaccine development and immune-based HIV functional cure strategies. He has special interest in capacity building for biomedical research in Africa.
The human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) are two species of Lentivirus that infect humans. Over time, they cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. Without treatment, average survival time after infection with HIV is estimated to be 9 to 11 years, depending on the HIV subtype. In most cases, HIV is a sexually transmitted infection and occurs by contact with or transfer of blood, pre-ejaculate, semen, and vaginal fluids. Research has shown that HIV is untransmittable through condomless sexual intercourse if the HIV-positive partner has a consistently undetectable viral load. Non-sexual transmission can occur from an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy, during childbirth by exposure to her blood or vaginal fluid, and through breast milk. Within these bodily fluids, HIV is present as both free virus particles and virus within infected immune cells.
Rotavirus is a genus of double-stranded RNA viruses in the family Reoviridae. Rotaviruses are the most common cause of diarrhoeal disease among infants and young children. Nearly every child in the world is infected with a rotavirus at least once by the age of five. Immunity develops with each infection, so subsequent infections are less severe; adults are rarely affected. There are nine species of the genus, referred to as A, B, C, D, F, G, H, I and J. Rotavirus A, the most common species, causes more than 90% of rotavirus infections in humans. Rotavirus E, which is seen in pigs, has not been confirmed as a distinct species.
An HIV vaccine can be either a preventive vaccine or a therapeutic vaccine, which means it can either protect individuals from being infected with HIV or treat HIV-infected individuals. And it can either induce an immune response against HIV or consist of preformed antibodies against HIV.
Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) is a species of retrovirus that cause persistent infections in at least 45 species of African non-human primates. Based on analysis of strains found in four species of monkeys from Bioko Island, which was isolated from the mainland by rising sea levels about 11,000 years ago, it has been concluded that SIV has been present in monkeys and apes for at least 32,000 years, and probably much longer.
Following infection with HIV-1, the rate of clinical disease progression varies between individuals. Factors such as host susceptibility, genetics and immune function, health care and co-infections as well as viral genetic variability may affect the rate of progression to the point of needing to take medication in order not to develop AIDS.
HIV superinfection is a condition in which a person with an established human immunodeficiency virus infection acquires a second strain of HIV, often of a different subtype. These can form a recombinant strain that co-exists with the strain from the initial infection, as well as the strain from the new virus, and may cause more rapid disease progression or carry multiple resistances to certain HIV medications.
Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), sometimes less precisely called immune enhancement or disease enhancement, is a phenomenon in which binding of a virus to suboptimal antibodies enhances its entry into host cells, followed by its replication. Antiviral antibodies promote viral infection of target immune cells by exploiting the phagocytic FcγR or complement pathway. After interaction with the virus the antibody binds Fc receptors (FcR) expressed on certain immune cells or some of the complement proteins. FcγR binds antibody via its fragment crystallizable region (Fc). Usually the process of phagocytosis is accompanied by the virus degradation, however, if the virus is not neutralized, antibody binding might result in a virus escape and therefore, enhanced infection. Thus, phagocytosis can cause viral replication, with the subsequent death of immune cells. The virus “deceives” the process of phagocytosis of immune cells and uses the host's antibodies as a Trojan horse. ADE may occur due to the non-neutralizing characteristic of the antibody, which bind viral epitopes other than those involved in a host cell attachment and entry. ADE may also happen due to the presence of sub-neutralizing concentrations of antibodies. In addition ADE can be induced when the strength of antibody-antigen interaction is below the certain threshold. This phenomenon might lead to both increased virus infectivity and virulence. The viruses that can cause ADE frequently share some common features such as antigenic diversity, abilities to replicate and establish persistence in immune cells. ADE can occur during the development of a primary or secondary viral infection, as well as after vaccination with a subsequent virus challenge. It has been observed mainly with positive-strand RNA viruses. Among them are Flaviviruses such as Dengue virus, Yellow fever virus, Zika virus, Coronaviruses, including alpha- and betacoronaviruses, Orthomyxoviruses such as influenza, Retroviruses such as HIV, and Orthopneumoviruses such as RSV.
One of the obstacles to treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is its high genetic variability. HIV can be divided into two major types, HIV type 1 (HIV-1) and HIV type 2 (HIV-2). HIV-1 is related to viruses found in chimpanzees and gorillas living in western Africa, while HIV-2 viruses are related to viruses found in the sooty mangabey, a vulnerable West African primate. HIV-1 viruses may be further divided into groups. The HIV-1 group M viruses predominate and are responsible for the AIDS pandemic. Group M can be further subdivided into subtypes based on genetic sequence data. Some of the subtypes are known to be more virulent or are resistant to different medications. Likewise, HIV-2 viruses are thought to be less virulent and transmissible than HIV-1 M group viruses, although HIV-2 is also known to cause AIDS.
A vaccine against Epstein–Barr virus is not yet available. The virus establishes latent infection and causes infectious mononucleosis. It is a dual-tropic virus, causing infection of both B cells and epithelial cells. One challenge is that the Epstein–Barr virus expresses very different proteins during its lytic and its latent phases.
The human T-lymphotropic virus, human T-cell lymphotropic virus, or human T-cell leukemia-lymphoma virus (HTLV) family of viruses are a group of human retroviruses that are known to cause a type of cancer called adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma and a demyelinating disease called HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). The HTLVs belong to a larger group of primate T-lymphotropic viruses (PTLVs). Members of this family that infect humans are called HTLVs, and the ones that infect Old World monkeys are called Simian T-lymphotropic viruses (STLVs). To date, four types of HTLVs and four types of STLVs have been identified. HTLV types HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 viruses are the first retroviruses which were discovered. Both belong to the oncovirus subfamily of retroviruses and can transform human lymphocytes so that they are self-sustaining in vitro. The HTLVs are believed to originate from interspecies transmission of STLVs. The HTLV-1 genome is diploid, composed of two copies of a single-stranded RNA virus whose genome is copied into a double-stranded DNA form that integrates into the host cell genome, at which point the virus is referred to as a provirus. A closely related virus is bovine leukemia virus BLV. The original name for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was HTLV-3.
A neutralizing antibody (NAb) is an antibody that defends a cell from a pathogen or infectious particle by neutralizing any effect it has biologically. Neutralisation renders the particle no longer infectious or pathogenic. Neutralizing antibodies are part of the humoral response of the adaptive immune system against viruses, intracellular bacteria and microbial toxin. By binding specifically to surface structures (antigen) on an infectious particle, neutralizing antibodies prevent the particle from interacting with its host cells it might infect and destroy. Immunity due to neutralizing antibodies is also known as sterilizing immunity, as the immune system eliminates the infectious particle before any infection takes place.
Adolfo García-Sastre,(born in Burgos, Spain, 10 October 1964). Is a Professor of Medicine and Microbiology and co-director of the Global Health & Emerging Pathogens Institute at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. His research into the biology of influenza viruses has been at the forefront of medical advances in epidemiology.
Stuart C. Ray is an American physician. He is Vice Chair of Medicine for Data Integrity and Analytics, Associate Director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Training Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and a Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. Ray also holds appointments in Viral Oncology and the Division of Health Sciences Informatics. He is affiliated with the Institute for Computational Medicine at Johns Hopkins and is licensed to practice medicine in Maryland.
William A. Haseltine is an American scientist, businessman, author, and philanthropist. He is known for his groundbreaking work on HIV/AIDS and the human genome. Haseltine was a professor at Harvard Medical School where he founded two research departments on cancer and HIV/AIDS. Haseltine is a founder of several biotechnology companies including Cambridge Biosciences, The Virus Research Institute, ProScript, LeukoSite, Dendreon, Diversa, X-VAX, and Demetrix. He was a founder chairman and CEO of Human Genome Sciences, a company that pioneered the application of genomics to drug discovery. He is the president of the Haseltine Foundation for Science and the Arts and is the founder, chairman, and president of ACCESS Health International, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving access to high-quality health worldwide. He was listed by Time Magazine as one of the world's 25 most influential business people in 2001 and one of the 100 most influential leaders in biotechnology by Scientific American in 2015.
José Esparza is a Venezuelan American virologist who lives in the USA. He is known for his efforts to promote the international development and testing of vaccines against HIV/AIDS. During 17 years he pursued an academic career at the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC), attaining positions as full professor of virology and chairman of its Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology. From 1986 to 2014 he worked continuously as a viral vaccine expert and senior public health adviser for international health policy agencies such as the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. José G. Esparza is currently an adjunct professor of medicine, at the Institute of Human Virology. During 2016 he was the President of the Global Virus Network. In the context historical studies on the early use of horsepox for smallpox vaccination, Esparza was appointed in 2018 as a Robert Koch Fellow at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, Germany. He is an active member of the Latin American Academy of Sciences, ACAL.
Anna-Lise WilliamsonMASSAf is a Professor of Virology at the University of Cape Town. Williamson obtained her PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1985. Her area of expertise is human papillomavirus, but is also known on an international level for her work in developing vaccines for HIV. These vaccines have been introduce in phase 1 of clinical trial. Williamson has published more than 120 papers.
M. Juliana “Julie” McElrath is a senior vice president and director of the vaccine and infectious disease division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and principal investigator of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network Laboratory Center in Seattle, Washington. She also is a professor at the University of Washington.
Susan Zolla-Pazner is an American research scientist who is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Microbiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a guest investigator in the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at The Rockefeller University, both in New York City. Zolla-Pazner's work has focused on how the immune system responds to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and, in particular, how antibodies against the viral envelope develop in the course of infection.
Bette Korber is an American computational biologist focusing on the molecular biology and population genetics of the HIV virus that causes infection and eventually AIDS. She has contributed heavily to efforts to obtain an effective HIV vaccine. She created a database at Los Alamos National Laboratory that has enabled her to design novel mosaic HIV vaccines, one of which is currently in human testing in Africa. The database contains thousands of HIV genome sequences and related data.
Catherine Blish is a translational immunologist and professor at Stanford University. Her lab works on clinical immunology and focuses primarily on the role of the innate immune system in fighting infectious diseases like HIV, dengue fever, and influenza. Her immune cell biology work characterizes the biology and action of Natural Killer (NK) cells and macrophages.
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