Major Areas of Research
Innate immune responses to tick-borne infections
Mouse models of host-pathogen interactions
Non-human primate models of infectious disease
The Translational Research Program (TRP) serves three major functions at the VRC: 1) provides centralized support and service for all in vivo research conducted at the VRC, 2) conducts collaborative research and animal model development, and 3) operates a fully accredited lab animal facility.
TRP provides all aspects of oversight and programmatic assistance to support teaching, training, and in vivo research for the VRC by managing all preclinical safety and regulatory issues, ensuring judicious and humane use of animals in compliance with all institutional, local, state, and federal guidelines. It is the VRC primary resource for consultation, collaboration, and professional assistance in selecting appropriate animal models or establishing novel models to study disease and vaccine effects.
TRP pursues independent and collaborative research projects related to animal model and preclinical product development for HIV, influenza, emerging infectious diseases such as alphaviruses, and other biodefense-focused diseases. We conduct translational research to advance vaccine products from preclinical stages toward human clinical trials by actively monitoring and overseeing efficacy, safety, and toxicology studies in preparation for regulatory oversight of product development. TRP also investigates novel vaccine delivery methods to enhance efficiency, vaccine efficacy, and safety.
TRP serves as a fully accredited Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC) in-house animal facility, adhering to all federal regulations. The facility provides quality animal husbandry services, veterinary care, and facility management support for rodents. The facility offers preventive medical care, routine surveillance, and quality assurance for vendor- and colony-produced animals and may also establish and maintain its own mouse breeding colonies if necessary. A variety of technical services are performed by facility staff, including parenteral injections or oral administration of Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC)-approved experimental materials; blood, tissue, and serum collection; surgical manipulations; animal identification procedures; electroporation procedures; anesthesia/analgesic administration; and other procedures as needed. The veterinary care unit also offers training for those who wish to perform these procedures themselves. For VRC studies conducted at other facilities, TRP establishes contractual agreements and coordination between investigators and these facilities. Within the in-house facility and contracted facilities, TRP ensures high-quality research in accordance with regulatory guidelines and compliance with good laboratory practices (GLP) and biosafety level requirements as essential.
Dr. Scorpio is a licensed veterinarian and has been a Diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine since 2004. Dr. Scorpio received her DVM from Michigan State University in 1997. She then pursued an NIH T32 Comparative Medicine fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where she remained on as faculty for 8 years. During her tenure there, she also received her MPH at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Scorpio then pursued her career internationally at the National University of Singapore and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine before returning stateside for her present position with the Vaccine Research Center.
Drummond MR, Lania BG, de Paiva Diniz PPV, Gilioli R, Demolin DMR, Scorpio DG, Breitschwerdt EB, Velho PENF. Improvement of Bartonella henselae DNA detection in cat blood samples by combining molecular and culture methods. J Clin Microbiol. 2018 Apr 25;56(5).
Scorpio, DG, Choi, KS, Dumler, JS. Anaplasma phagocytophilum-Related Defects in CD8, NKT, and NK Lymphocyte Cytotoxicity. Frontiers Immunology, 2018 Apr 9. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00710.
Armistead JS, Morlais I, Mathias DK, Jardim JG, Joy J, Fridman A, Finnefrock AC, Bagchi A, Plebanski M, Scorpio DG, Churcher TS, Borg NA, Sattabongkot J, Dinglasan RR. Antibodies to a single, conserved epitope in Anopheles APN1 inhibit universal transmission of Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria. Infect Immun 2014 Feb;82(2):818-29.
Choi KS, Scorpio DG, Dumler JS. Stat1 negatively regulates immune- mediated injury with Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection. J Immunology 2014 Nov 15;193(10):5088-98.
Mathias DK, Plieskatt JL, Armistead JS, Bethony JM, Abdul-Majid KB, McMillan A, Angov E, Aryee MJ, Zhan B, Gillespie P, Keegan B, Jariwalab AR, Rezende W, ME Bottazzi, Scorpio DG, Hotez PJ, Dinglasan RR. Expression, Immunogenicity, Histopathology, and Potency of a Mosquito-Based Malaria Transmission-Blocking Recombinant Vaccine. Infect Immun 2012 Apr;80(4):1606-14
Scorpio DG, Dumler JS, Barat NC, Cook JA, Barat CE, Stillman BA, Debisceglie KC, Beall MJ, Chandrashekar R. (2011) Comparative Strain Analysis of Anaplasma phagocytophilum Infection and Clinical Outcomes in a Canine Model of Granulocytic Anaplasmosis. Vector Borne Zoonotic Disease 2011 Mar;11(3):223-9