Our Vision and Our Goals
The Vaccine Research and Development Center is a multidisciplinary center whose vision is to discover novel antigens and develop effective vaccine formulations that can stimulate the immune system. Some modes of delivery that we have employed include liposomes, nanoparticles, virus-like particles, and immunostimulatory complexes (ISCOMS). We are also studying the effects of the addition of adjuvants and innate immune activators to our model delivery systems.
We strongly believe that vaccination is one of the most successful and effective means to reduce disease and death from infectious diseases. It is believed that vaccines save at least 2 to 3 million lives per year globally. Our focus is the search for novel vaccine candidates, formulations and new strategies to help detect and prevent disease. Our aim is to meet the public health needs of today’s and future`s populations.
To reach this ambitious goal, we employ a translational high-throughput approach for research and development.
Our efforts are based on these three main pillars: 1) Vaccine discovery – this pillar, the heart of our center, encompasses the search from antigens and biomarkers. 2) Immunobiology – here we understand the immune response and how it is all tied together. And 3) Bioinformatics and Biostatistics – A robust approach not only for data analysis, but for describing the biological phenomena in immune response.
Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
The Biostatistics and Bioinformatics arm of the VRDC supports algorithm development and data analysis in areas of:
- antigen classification
- vaccine optimization
- lead candidate selection
The Immunobiology arm of the VRDC supports in vitro and in vivo immune profiling biodistribution/bioavailability studies:
- immunogenicity studies (T and B cell & cytokine repertoires)
- vaccine pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics
- intravital microscopy
- small animal challenge model development
The Vaccine Discovery arm of the VRDC supports Antigen discovery and vaccine formulation science:
- high-throughput cloning and expression of gene libraries
- protein microarray printing and development
- vaccine formulation and optimization
Here many different vaccine candidate antigens or epitopes can be screened and discovered from thousands of antigens or millions of epitopes found in organisms of infectious diseases, autoantigens, cancer antigens, or other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
A new area in vaccination is the idea of protective autoimmunity, which may lead to vaccinations for autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases. The first example of this approach is the atherosclerosis vaccine. Much remains unknown in this exciting new area, including suitable adjuvants, formulations, and the need for priming and booster injections.