I am currently a second year graduate student in the laboratory of Ivelin Georgeiv, where I utilize recent advances in next-generation sequencing and analytics to study the antibody response to pathogens of biomedical interest, with a particular focus on HIV. A large number of broadly neutralizing HIV-1 antibodies (bNAbs) have been isolated in recent years and have been shown to work in therapy and prevention, though no HIV-1 vaccine capable of eliciting such bNAbs is currently available. Since traditional vaccinology has had limited success, significant effort in recent years has been devoted to “rational” vaccine design that is based on understanding and manipulating the interactions between bNAbs and HIV-1. The identification and characterization of antibodies from infected or vaccinated individuals provides insights into the details of the antibody response against the virus and can help generate templates for antibody-specific vaccine design.
My clinical advisor is Robb Nash, a clinician in the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care Clinic who regularly sees HIV patients. My time in the clinic with him has given me an added appreciation for the social determinants of health.