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Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D.

The focus of Dr. Weissman's laboratory is to develop new approaches to HIV vaccines using mRNA and to study the immunogenicity of RNA Currently four major projects are ongoing. The first project studies antigen presentation by dendritic cells (DC). Our hypothesis is that autologous DC may be utilized for the presentation of HIV antigens, which will then result in strong cellular and humoral immune responses. The goal of this research is to optimize the delivery of candidate antigens encoded by mRNA to DC and the resulting activation of T and B cells to generate a vaccine/immune adjuvant. The second project studies genital tract expressed factors that promote HIV transmission. We have identified a molecule that enhances infection in the setting of subinfectious amounts of virus and promotes viral crossing of the epithelium. The third project studies the use of mRNA as a transient gene therapy. We have identified what makes mRNA immunogenic and have made non-immunogenic mRNA. We believe this mRNA can be delivered to primary cells to either deliver or replace proteins. The fourth project studies endosomal and cytosolic RNA sensors that activate cells to the presence of foreign RNA.

Selected publications:

Wingard, JB., Anderson, B., and Weissman D. Induction of HIV-specific T and B cell responses with a replicating and conditionally infectious lentiviral vaccine. European J. Immunol 38:1310-20, 2008.

Cannon, G., Yi, Y., Ni, H., Stoddard, E., Scales, DA. Van Ryk, DI., Chaiken, I., Malamud, D., Weissman. D. Induction of HIV-specific T and B cell responses with a replicating and conditionally infectious lentiviral vaccine. J. Immunol 181:2065-70, 2008.

Kariko, K., Muramatsu, H., Welsh, FA., Ludwig, J., Kato, H., Akira, S., Weissman, D. Incorporation of pseudouridine into mRNA yields superior non-immunogenic vector with increased translational efficiency and stability. Molec. Therapy 16:1833-40, 2008.

Drew Weissman, M.D., Ph.D.
522 Johnson Pavilion
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6073
(215) 614-0291

Medical School: Boston University
ID Training: National Institutes of Health
Academic Rank: Associate Professor of Medicine