David K. Hong, MD, an instructor of pediatrics at Stanford University, is the recipient of this year’s Pfizer Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development. This award provides funding for outstanding research in vaccine development, either through clinical or laboratory investigation, to a candidate who demonstrates commitment to a career in vaccinology.
Dr. Hong received his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago in 2001. He completed his internship and residency in general pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he also served as chief resident in pediatrics and fellow in pediatric infectious diseases. In 2008, he joined the Stanford faculty as instructor in immunology/allergy and infectious diseases in the Department of Pediatrics.
Dr. Hong began evaluating a novel adjuvant for influenza vaccination during his fellowship. Through the fellowship, he has gained expertise in cellular immunology, flow cytometry, the use of transgenic mouse models of immunology, and influenza virology.
His aim with the proposed research is to better understand the mechanisms by which a novel adjuvant, cationic lipid/DNA complexes (CLDC), induces antigen-specific CD8 T cells. Dr. Hong has previously shown that vaccination with CLDC combined with inactivated influenza virus can result in robust anti-influenza CD8 T cells and that this can confer protection against mismatched influenza challenge. However, it is not known by which mechanism this occurs. Dr. Hong will examine the role of CD8α+ dendritic cells, a specialized dendritic cell involved in cross-presenting antigen to prime naïve CD8 T cells. He will also examine the role of Type 1 interferons (interferon-α/β) in mediating cross-presentation in dendritic cells.
Dr. Hong’s long-term goal is to study the role of adjuvants to improve vaccines for respiratory viruses in children. Ultimately, this could lead to improved vaccines that would be able to enhance or shape the immune response to better protect infants and young children from viruses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, which are major causes of morbidity in this age group.
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