Research Mentors

Trainees interested in pursuing a career in research investigation have a wide variety of opportunities ranging from HIV clinical research including behavioral and epidemiologic studies to bench work focusing on host-responses and innate immunity. To make the transition to the research years, fellows will work with a faculty advisor during their first year of fellowship. This advisor will be chosen based on a fellows' particular area of interest, and will work with a fellow to identify a specific research. Once identified, fellows will work with this designated mentor throughout the remainder of their training. This mentor will supervise a fellow's development into an independent investigator which includes the development and implementation of research projects, publications, and grant submissions that will be used to obtain funding for project support and salary support in the non-ACGME years.

Dan Barouch, MD, PhD

Dr. Barouch is the Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at BIDMC. His research focuses on studying the immunology and virology of HIV-1 infection and developing novel vaccine strategies. Dr. Barouch's team has demonstrated that humoral and cellular immune responses elicited by adenovirus and poxvirus vectors can partially protect against acquisition of infection and can control viral replication following pathogenic virus challenges in rhesus monkeys. They have also developed a series of alternative serotype and chimeric adenovirus vector-based vaccines that are designed to circumvent the high titers of neutralizing antibodies to the common adenovirus serotype 5 (Ad5) vector in the developing world. They have constructed a variety of novel vaccine vectors, explored their immunogenicity and protective efficacy in preclinical studies, and advanced optimal vaccine candidates into clinical trials. Four phase 1 clinical trials with these novel HIV-1 vaccine vectors are currently in progress in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Barouch's group is a key part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Collaborative for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD), the NIH Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. Read more.

Raphael Dolin, MD

Dr. Dolin has a major interest in the development and evaluation of HIV vaccines. As part of the NIH sponsored Harvard HIV Vaccine Trials Unit, studies of candidate HIV vaccines are carried out in normal volunteers for safety and immunogenicity. Recent vaccines which have been studied include DNA vaccines which code for HIV-1 envelope genes, and genes for gag, pol, and nef proteins. Studies of candidate vaccines based on adenovirus vectors are also underway. Laboratory investigation of immune responses also has been undertaken, including studies of both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. The latter employ techniques to measure T-cell responses by ELISPOT, intracellular cytokine staining, and tetramer assays. Establishment of highly sensitive, specific neutralization antibody assays is a particular interest of the group.

Dr. Dolin and colleagues are also interested in the development of safe and more tolerable smallpox vaccines, as part of the NIH sponsored Translational Immunology Center. Clinical studies of vaccinia and Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccines in human volunteers are being undertaken along with measurement of humoral and cell mediated immune responses in vaccines. The goal of the studies is to develop a new generation of genetically modified and defined vaccines for biodefense uses. Read more.

Igor Koralnik, MD

Dr. Koralnik is investigating Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML). PML is a deadly demyelinating disease of the central nervous system caused by JC virus (JCV) in immunosuppressed individuals. JCV infects most healthy adults without causing any disease, but its reactivation leads to a productive and lytic infection of oligodendrocytes, the myelin producing cells in the central nervous system. This laboratory is currently studying the cellular immune response against JCV mediated by both CD8+ and CD4+ T lymphocytes in patients with PML, and they are characterizing genetic markers of the host associated with clinical outcome of PML. They are using MR spectroscopy and advanced imaging techniques to understand the immunopathogenesis of the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS) in the context of PML. In addition, they are also studying JCV variants infecting cerebellar granule cell neurons and cortical pyramidal neurons, and have characterized two novel clinical entities called JCV granule cell neuronopathy (JCV GCN) and JCV encephalopathy (JCVE). Furthermore, they are using a humanized mouse model to decipher early events of JCV infections, latency, and reactivation. Since there is no cure for PML, this laboratory is now developing novel forms of immunotherapies for this disease. In addition the Koralnik group is studying the pathogenesis of BK virus in bone marrow and kidney transplant recipient. Finally, they have initiated a Global Neurology program in Lusaka, Zambia. Read more.

Kenneth Mayer, MD

Dr. Mayer has been conducting bio-behavioral studies of HIV prevention in high-risk populations in the US at Fenway Health, and in several international studies overseas, particularly India. He has led studies of HIV chemoprophylaxis (PEP, PrEP, and topical microbicides), vaccines, as well as social and structural interventions. He is the New England site Principal Investigator for the NIH's HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) and Microbicides Trials Network (MTN) consortia; and co-PI of the Harvard HIV Vaccine Trials Unit. He was one of the national chairs of HPTN 061, a study focused on developing HIV prevention interventions for Black men who have sex with men, and is Protocol Co-Chair of HPTN 069, which is evaluating Maraviroc for use as PrEP. He is also funded by NIMH to work with behavioral scientists to develop adherence interventions for PrEP users.

Dr. Mayer is also involved with several natural history studies of HIV, including the CFAR Network of Clinical Integrated Systems (CNICS), which follows more than 30,000 HIV-infected patients in care at 8 US centers. He is also leading an effort to train other community health centers to use their electronic health records to conduct clinical research. His recent papers have appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, AIDS, Journal of AIDS, Clinical Infectious Diseases, and other journals. He continues to work with several centers in India, and is part of the Executive Committee of the HPTN, working on developing combination HIV prevention interventions. Read more.

Christopher Rowley, MD, MPH

Dr. Rowley is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Essex Laboratory at the Harvard School of Public Health. His primary research interests are related to HIV drug resistance in southern Africa. He is currently the principal investigatory of an NIH-funded study to monitor for transmitted HIV drug resistance in Botswana and to test techniques allowing for low cost alternatives for resistance testing. He also serves as the Co-Director of the Global Health Program within the Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Read more.

Roger Shapiro, MD, MPH

Dr. Shapiro is an Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. His primary research interests are in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) and the reduction of morbidity and mortality among infants born to HIV-infected women. Since 1999, Dr. Shapiro has studied infant outcomes and PMTCT strategies in several large NIH-funded clinical trials in Botswana. He was a co-investigator of the Mashi Study, which evaluated several PMTCT interventions among 1200 mother-infant pairs, and the principal investigator of the Mma Bana Study, which compared 3 different antiretroviral combinations during pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding among 730 mothers-infant pairs. Dr. Shapiro is the co-principal investigator of the Mpepu Study, which is evaluating strategies for reduce infant mortality among over 3,000 HIV-exposed uninfected infants. Dr. Shapiro is also the principal investigator for a CDC funded study of birth outcomes in Botswana that has evaluated more than 33,000 deliveries among HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women, and he a co-investigator for other HIV prevention studies in Botswana. Dr. Shapiro works closely with the Botswana PMTCT Program, and is a member of the PMTCT Advisory Panel for the World Health Organization. Dr. Shapiro is an Associate Director for Education at the Harvard Global Health Initiative, and helps to mentor Infectious Disease fellows, residents, and students who are interested in research projects related to international HIV. Dr. Shapiro has established a clinical teaching and training program at the Scottish Livingstone Hospital in Molepolole, Botswana, to support fellows and junior faculty starting careers in international HIV. Read more.

Peter Weller, MD

Dr. Weller has many active areas of basic laboratory research centered around understanding basic mechanisms of leukocyte functioning in forms of inflammation. The two principal areas of investigation are:

  1. The immunobiology of eosinophilic leukocytes
  2. The intracellular regulation and compartmentalization of inducible mediators of inflammation in neutrophils and other leukocytes.

Studies of human eosinophils are aimed at defining mechanisms whereby eosinophils may collaboratively interact with other cellular elements of the immune system. These studies include investigations of the mechanisms whereby eosinophils may function as antigen-presenting cells in governing T-lymphocyte dependent immune responses, and include investigations of the in vivo migration and function of eosinophils and of the regulated expression of cell surface proteins involved in collaborative interactions between eosinophils and other cell types.

Additional studies are focused on defining the molecular mechanisms governing the synthesis, granule storage and release mechanisms of eosinophil derived cytokines. The roles of eosinophils in wound healing and fibrosis and the activities of chemokines and cytokines released by eosinophils that contribute to tissue remodeling are being studied. The second area of research involves the molecular and cellular biologic bases of inducible responses of leukocytes participating in host defense and other forms of inflammation. These are centered on a unique intracellular compartment, termed the lipid body, whose formation is rapidly inducible in leukocytes. The intracellular signaling mechanisms responsible for lipid body induction and especially the roles of lipid bodies as distinct sites of cytokine and eicosanoid mediator formation are being studied.

In addition to investigating previously undefined pathways of leukocyte responses to inflammation, these studies also offer the potential to identify novel anti-inflammatory therapeutic targets. Our research indicates that lipid bodies in leukocytes have roles as sites of regulated formation of eicosanoids and as distinct extranuclear sites of translation. The biology of these structures is intimately related to the roles of leukocytes in acute inflammation. Read more.

Sharon Wright, MD, MPH

Dr. Wright is the Director of the Division of Infection Control/Hospital Epidemiology in the Department of Health Care Quality and the Director of Infection Control Research. She studies the risk factors, outcomes and costs of healthcare-associated infections. Dr. Wright's work also focuses on staff education and quality improvement in infection prevention, specifically related to prevention of surgical site infections and device-associated infections. A more detailed description of the research activities related to Healthcare Epidemiology can be found here. Read more.

Other Investigator-Initiated Research

Carolyn Alonso, MD - Clostridium difficile (read more)
Adolf W. Karchmer, MD - Antibiotic chemotherapy, endocarditis, infections of foreign bodies, infections in diabetics and immunocompromised patients (read more)
Douglas Krakower, MD - Provider attitudes towards HIV prevention strategies (read more)
Nira Pollock, MD, PhD - Microbiology, molecular diagnostics, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (read more)
Chen Sabrina Tan, MD - Viral central nervous system infection in immunosuppressed patients (read more)

Mentorship Outside of BIDMC

BIDMC fellows have the opportunity to work with primary mentors outside the BIDMC at one of the Harvard affiliated hospitals. Our fellows have a track record of working with mentors from Massachusetts General Hospital, Children's Hospital Boston, Brigham and Women's Hospital and The Ragon Institute. Fellows interested in working with mentors outside of BIDMC will continue to meet regularly with a BIDMC advisor throughout their fellowship training.

Contact Information
Related Links
Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program
Mimi Gunning, Fellowship Coordinator
Lowry Medical Office Building, Suite GB
110 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02215
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F: 617-632-0766
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Global Health at BIDMC