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  • NIH Member Spotlight: Dr. Paul Spearman

    Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH

    Dr. Paul Spearman is a pediatric infectious diseases clinician whose laboratory studies HIV biology and develops new vaccines for human pathogens. His team is engaged in the design and performance of clinical trials for new vaccines in adults and children, with a special interest in employing cutting-edge technologies to define immune responses to vaccines.

    Dr. Spearman’s NIH Supported Research

    Dr. Spearman’s NIH-funded work includes studying the viral and cellular determinants of HIV-1 assembly. This research will add significantly to the knowledge of specific host factors involved in HIV particle assembly and budding, and will provide fundamental new insights into cellular trafficking pathways utilized by enveloped viruses.

    Dr. Spearman is also the principal investigator of an NIH grant awarded to develop an effective vaccine for the prevention of HIV infection. Challenges to designing an effective vaccine include:

    • The genetic variability of the virus
    • The virus’s ability to rapidly escape immune responses once it has disseminated within the infected host.

    A vaccine that acts soon after exposure at the local mucosal site may be more effective in limiting or preventing virus replication and dissemination. This project seeks to define the ideal route to elicit potent immune responses in mice and macaques and determine the vectors that best protect against infection.

    Impact on Patients and Public Health

    Studying the viral and cellular determinants of HIV-1 assembly has the potential to allow new drugs to be developed against HIV, and will contribute to the understanding of basic ways that proteins are sorted to the plasma membrane of cells; an added focus on other host factors important to HIV assembly will provide additional information that may be useful for fighting the virus and ending the global epidemic. Dr. Spearman’s work in HIV vaccine development will also help identify novel vectors as candidates for a live vector HIV vaccine.

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