Major Areas of Research
- Development of new vaccine candidates, and new vector systems for antigen delivery
- Application of molecular biology technology to evaluation of vaccine candidates
The mission of the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) is to translate basic scientific knowledge into vaccine products intended for clinical use. In order to carry out the development and analysis of new vaccine candidates, the VRC has established several laboratories, including the Virology Laboratory (VL). The goal of the various laboratories at the VRC is to develop novel vaccine candidates against HIV-1, influenza, and other emerging infectious diseases. The mission of the VL centers on understanding the cellular and molecular regulation of viral gene expression, entry into the cell, and correlates of immune protection, with the goal of developing safe and effective vaccines. The major areas of investigation involve HIV, influenza, and emerging viruses.
The Virology Core is a part of the Virology Laboratory and delivers services and expertise critical to the success of the research at the VRC. One approach toward achieving this goal is to design vaccine candidates including vectors and inserts that function as gene-based and protein-based immunogens to elicit cellular/humoral immune responses. The Virology Core provides investigators with DNA vectors, viral-based vectors including adenoviral vectors, lentiviral vectors, and alternative Ad vectors and recombinant proteins for basic research, vaccine applications, and crystallographic studies of vaccine candidates, preclinical studies, and clinical trials. The Virology Core also designs and examines the various vaccine delivery routes and vaccination platforms to enhance the immune responses.
A major focus of the Virology Core is the generation of new platforms for vaccine development. The VRC has increased the number of vaccine development platforms. In addition to HIV, there is substantial focus on influenza, chikungunya, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, Ebola, and other infectious diseases.
For more information on research conducted by Dr. Wing-Pui Kong, visit the Virology Laboratory.
Dr. Kong received his Ph.D. in 1993 in virology at the University of Chicago, where he studied the molecular pathogenesis of picornaviruses, a class of viruses that contribute to the development of central nervous system disease. He made significant contributions to the elucidation of the mechanism by which these viruses induce disease. Dr. Kong then completed a postdoctoral fellowship and subsequently held a research investigator faculty appointment in Dr. Gary Nabel’s laboratory at the University of Michigan prior to beginning his employment at the VRC. At the University of Michigan, Dr. Kong’s work helped to better understand the role of NF-kB in selectively regulating gene expression in differentiation and development. He also collaborated with other members of the lab on research related to human herpes virus 8 (HHV8), which is associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Dr. Kong has a proven record of accomplishment in high-visibility and high-impact VRC vaccine development efforts. As chief of the Virology Core, Dr. Kong is responsible for advancing research on the development of new vaccine candidates and new vector systems for antigen delivery, overseeing all aspects of molecular biology related to viral vector construction and development, and evaluation of vaccine candidates for their effectiveness in inducing potent and broad immune responses in different animal models. An essential part of his position is that he communicates with multiple users, including scientists from the VL, Structural Biology Section, Humoral Immunology Core, Immunology Core, and Nonhuman Primate Immunogenicity Core.
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Ou L, Kong WP, Chuang GY, Ghosh M, Gulla K, O'Dell S, Varriale J, Barefoot N, Changela A, Chao CW, Cheng C, Druz A, Kong R, McKee K, Rawi R, Sarfo EK, Schön A, Shaddeau A, Tsybovsky Y, Verardi R, Wang S, Wanninger TG, Xu K, Yang GJ, Zhang B, Zhang Y, Zhou T; VRC Production Program, Arnold FJ, Doria-Rose NA, Lei QP, Ryan ET, Vann WF, Mascola JR, Kwong PD. Preclinical Development of a Fusion Peptide Conjugate as an HIV Vaccine Immunogen. Sci Rep. 2020 Feb 20;10(1):3032.
Ko SY, Akahata W, Yang ES, Kong WP, Burke CW, Honnold SP, Nichols DK, Huang YS, Schieber GL, Carlton K, DaSilva L, Traina-Dorge V, Vanlandingham DL, Tsybovsky Y, Stephens T, Baxa U, Higgs S, Roy CJ, Glass PJ, Mascola JR, Nabel GJ, Rao SS. A virus-like particle vaccine prevents equine encephalitis virus infection in nonhuman primates. Sci Transl Med. 2019 May 15;11(492):eaav3113.
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