After the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the globe, the study of infectious disease became more prevalent than ever before. Researchers rushed toward developing a vaccine to end this disease and save future lives.
The research I’m most interested in includes infectious pathogens, such as the influenza virus causing flu, the norovirus and rotavirus that cause diarrhea, and the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19 infectious disease.
I find that nanotechnology and its use in vaccine development is a remarkable field in modern medicine. My focus is on virus-host interactions and seeking new vaccine strategies against these viral pathogens.
One of our laboratory's most significant achievements is the invention of multiple nanoparticles as platforms to display viral antigens for enhanced immunogenicity for innovative vaccine design. Among these nanoparticles, a novel one, known as the S60 nanoparticle, is equal to the inner shell of a norovirus capsid.
The bioengineered nanoparticle can self-assemble by 60 norovirus shell (S) domains with 60 terminal hinges on the surface. The nanoparticle acts as a versatile platform for presenting antigens in order to design innovative vaccines. When the viral antigen bonds to the “hinge” of the S domain, the fused proteins assemble into pseudo-viral nanoparticles with 60 antigens lying on the surface, resulting in strongly enhanced immunogenicity of the exhibited antigen.
As a proof-of-concept, a pseudo-viral nanoparticle displaying the defusing antigens of rotavirus VP8 has been developed and tested. This S60 nanoparticle was proven to be a powerful vaccine platform to design subunit vaccines against different infectious pathogens and their diseases.
Throughout my career, I have received numerous research awards, such as:
- COVID-19 Research Innovation and Pilot Grant of $75,000, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, May 2020 to April 2021
- Innovation Fund of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center of $100,000, July 2019 to June 2020
- Pilot Collaborative Studies Grant award, Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST), University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center for $60,000, July 2019 to June 2020
- R56 research grant of $481,910, National Institute of Health, August 2020 to July 2021
I have more than 20 years’ experience in infectious diseases and started working at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2002. My research has been published 110 scientific articles in respected journals, such as ACS Nano, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Biomaterials, Emerging infectious diseases, PLoS Pathogens, Journal of Virology, Vaccine and Pharmaceutics.