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About The Speaker

Andrew Ward

Professor at the Scripps Research Institute

Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward obtained a B.S. in Biology from Duke University in 2001. Upon graduation he moved to The Scripps Research Institute where he obtained his Ph.D. with Ronald Milligan, Ph.D. in cryoEM (2008) and conducted his postdoctoral work in structural biology and biophysics of membrane proteins with Geoffrey Chang, Ph.D. (2010).

He has been a member of the faculty since 2010 and leads a lab that is primarily focused on immunotherapeutic and vaccine development to combat pathogens such as HIV, influenza, Coronaviruses, Ebola, hepatitis C, and malaria. The Ward lab uses electron microscopy to image viral and malarial antigens in complex with neutralizing antibodies and the structural data are then used to improve antibody-based therapies and rationally design vaccines.

The Ward lab has published extensively on cryoEM studies of HIV envelope glycoprotein, including the first high-resolution cryoEM structure of the soluble SOSIP trimer. This previously elusive target galvanized HIV subunit vaccine design efforts, several of which began human clinical trials 2020 as part of a large international effort. The Ward lab also solved the structure of the first human coronavirus spike protein in 2016, which enabled structure-based vaccine design to create stabilized, pre-fusion subunit vaccine candidates SARS CoV-2 spike proteins.

These ‘2P’ mutations have been used to develop prefusion subunit vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) by companies such as Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, JNJ, and Novavax.In 2013 Dr. Ward was awarded the Ray Thomas Edwards Foundation Fellowship, in 2014 he was recognized with the Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award by the American Society for Virology, and was the 2017 recipient of the Viruses Young Investigator in Virology Award.

The Ward lab receives funding from the National Institutes of Health and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as biotech and biopharmaceutical industrial collaborations. The Ward lab is a member of the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative Neutralizing Development, and the Sinai-Emory Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Center.

Deconstructing polyclonal antibody responses at the molecular level using cryoEM

One of the rate-limiting steps in analyzing immune responses to vaccines or infections is the isolation and characterization of monoclonal antibodies. Here, we present a hybrid structural and bioinformatic approach to directly assign the heavy and light chains, identify complementarity-determining regions and discover sequences from cryoEM density maps of serum-derived polyclonal antibodies bound to an antigen.
When combined with next generation sequencing of immune repertoires we were able to specifically identify clonal family members, synthesize the monoclonal antibodies and confirm that they interact with the antigen in a manner equivalent to the corresponding polyclonal antibodies. This structure-based approach for identification of monoclonal antibodies from polyclonal sera opens new avenues for analysis of immune responses, iterative vaccine design, and monoclonal antibody discovery.
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