Antibodies Against Ebola and Lassa: A Global Collaboration

Date & Time:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 03:00pm


Lipsett Amphitheater (inside Building 10/ Clinical Center on the NIH campus), Bethesda, MD


Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D.


Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, director of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium (VIC), will deliver the 2017 Joseph J. Kinyoun Memorial Lecture on Tuesday, December 5, at 3 p.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater, Building 10.

Her talk, “Antibodies Against Ebola and Lassa: A Global Collaboration,” will explore the features of antibodies that protect against these deadly viruses and the ongoing need for scientists to collaborate in this research to establish a complete knowledge base. During the past three years, VIC researchers from dozens of labs on five continents have studied these protective antibodies. The VIC aims to fill critical knowledge gaps and provide a foundation of research that can be used to improve existing vaccines and antivirals, and to evaluate the pipeline of candidate countermeasures.

Ollmann Saphire, who has served as VIC director since 2013, investigates the structural biology of both viruses and antibodies—how viruses like Ebola, Marburg and Lassa infect host cells, what the viruses’ weaknesses are, and which antibody combinations might defeat them. This work has led to surprising and substantial discoveries in virology: Her team recently discovered that some viral proteins can change their 3D structures to play several different roles, allowing more information and more function to be encoded in concise viral genomes.

Ollmann Saphire received her Ph.D. in Macromolecular and Cellular Structure and Chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute (SRI) in 2000. She has since held a number of positions at TSRI, where she is currently a professor of Immunology and Microbial Science. Her work has been recognized with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and young investigator awards from The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Microbiology, and the International Society for Antiviral Research. She is a fellow of both the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and serves on the Scientific Leadership Board of the Global Virus Network.

Since 1979, NIAID has hosted an annual public lecture in honor of Dr. Joseph J. Kinyoun. In 1887, Kinyoun founded the Laboratory of Hygiene—the forerunner of NIH—paving the way for more than a century of groundbreaking medical discoveries since then.