Vaccines and vaccine immunology

Vaccines are a cornerstone of public health, particularly anti-viral vaccines, which have successfully protected against deadly viral infections like polio, chickenpox, rubella, and measles. However, traditional vaccine strategies often fail to protect against viruses such as HIV-1 and to provide broad protection against influenza. Therefore, researchers need new strategies to address the diversity and variability of these viruses.

Our research

The Pantophlet Lab focuses on designing new immunogens and vaccination methods to generate broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) that can protect against viruses like HIV-1, flu, and CoV. These antibodies target consistent epitopes across different virus strains. The lab aims to develop effective HIV and flu vaccines by studying bnAb responses and the molecular interactions between bnAbs and epitopes. This research will improve the engineering of immunogens to elicit bnAb responses.

Research Objectives

Our research pursues five complementary aims:

  • Interrogating naïve B cell receptor interactions with designer immunogens in vitro
  • Probing immunogen design concepts in human antibody transgenic animal models
  • Exploring novel adjuvants and immunomodulatory platforms in vivo
  • Investigating the relevance of T follicular helper cell and T memory cell responses in vivo
  • Dissecting B cell responses at the serological, cellular, and monoclonal levels

Research infrastructure

The Pantophlet Lab employs various techniques and methodologies in immunochemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, immunology, and virology. Our lab contains advanced technologies, including:

  • High-performance microplate luminometer
  • ÄKTA FPLC with MALS and RI detectors
  • Octet RED96e biolayer interferometer
  • Thermocyclers
  • Warm incubators and shakers
  • Temperature-controlled centrifuges
  • Heat blocks
  • Refrigerators and freezers (-20°C and -80°C)
  • Protein and nucleic acid gel-electrophoresis apparatuses
  • Nanovue spectrophotometer
  • ELISA plate reader and washer

Additionally, we have access to specialized rooms and shared equipment, such as a dedicated tissue culture room, a chemicals room, a shared cold room, a GelDoc system, a 10X Chromium Controller, and a Flow Cytometry Laboratory with the necessary instruments for cell analysis and sorting. Animal research is supported by Animal Care Services.

Research funding

Our research is funded primarily by operating grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the United States and contract funding from the Government of Canada. Lab infrastructure development has been funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF). Dr. Pantophlet received a Career Scholar award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) in British Columbia from 2012 to 2020.