University of Wisconsin–Madison

Global Infectious Disease (GID) Scientific Working Group

Infectious diseases remain a leading cause of death and human suffering, particularly in the developing world where health care resources are limited. WNPRC researchers have intensely studied HIV since the mid-1980s, have contributed immunology and virology discoveries critical to developing life-saving medicines for HIV, and continue to work with collaborators around the world on HIV vaccine research, as well as better treatments with less side effects for patients already infected with HIV.

New emerging infectious diseases also continue to arise unexpectedly in populations unprepared to respond, as exemplified by the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa in 2014. GID research at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC) focuses on studying pathogens with a major global burden, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), influenza, tuberculosis, dengue, Zika virus, as well understudied primate viruses that could emerge to threaten human health in the future. GID investigators at the WNPRC collaborate extensively with GID affiliates throughout the world.

Accomplishments:

  • First use of nonhuman primate genome sequencing to identify non-MHC loci associated with SIV elite control. (David O’Connor group)
  • “Real-time” sharing of data from ongoing Zika virus studies, powered by the WNPRC’s LabKey server. (David O’Connor, Tom Friedrich and the Zika Experimental Science Team – ZEST)
  • Elucidating MHC-KIR interactions that shape NK cell responses to viral infection. (David Evans group)
  • Establishing the role of T follicular regulatory cells as tissue reservoirs for SIV. (Elizabeth Connick, University of Colorado, with Eva Rakasz and WNPRC immunology group)
  • Identifying ADCC as a potential correlate of broadly specific influenza immunity. (Tom Friedrich group)
  • Tracking the dynamics of acute immune selection using a “barcoded” SIV. (Shelby O’Connor group)

Additional progress:

  • Lentiviral resistance to tetherin/BST-2. (David Evans group)
  • Identification of MHC class I ligands for rhesus macaque KIRs. (David Evans group)
  • Development of the first animal model for human pegivirus infection. (David O’Connor group)
  • Identifying epitope-specific CD8 T cell responses in MCM. (David O’Connor group)
  • Defining CD8+ and CD4+ T cell epitopes in InRh. (David O’Connor group)
  • Persistent autologous adoptive cell transfers as a therapeutic cure strategy. (David O’Connor group)
  • Investigating the role of T follicular helper cells as AIDS virus reservoirs. (Elizabeth Connick, University of Colorado, with Eva Rakasz and WNPRC immunology researchers)
  • Development of persistent vectors as HIV vaccine strategies to establish viral control. (Eva Rakasz and Michael Farzan groups, with WNPRC immunology collaborators)
  • Designing a structural HIV-vaccine trimer to neutralize a tier-2 (moderately neutralization sensitive tier) virus. (Dennis Burton, Scripps Institute, and John Moore, Cornell University, groups)
  • Role of antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity in immunodeficiency virus infection. (David Evans group)
  • Cross-reactive immunity to influenza in macaques: modeling for “universal” vaccines. (Thomas Friedrich group and Stephen Kent, University of Melbourne, group)
  • Protective immunity via cross-reactive ADCC modulated via influenza vaccination. (Tom Friedrich group)
  • Development of an effective tetravalent dengue virus vaccine. (Jorge Osorio group and industry colleagues)
  • Novel virus discovery as a predictor for emerging infectious diseases. (David O’Connor, Tom Friedrich and Tony Goldberg groups)
  • Understanding Zika virus pathogenicity in macaques. (David O’Connor, Tom Friedrich and the Zika Experimental Science Team – ZEST)

The GID Working Group includes approximately 45 scientists, veterinarians and physicians from 25 universities, clinics and institutions.

Please direct research and collaboration queries to:

David O’Connor, Ph.D.
Phone: 608-890-0845
Send email to Dr. O’Connor

Thomas Friedrich, Ph.D.
Phone: (608) 265-3381
Send email to Dr. Friedrich