Ronald C. Montelaro
University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Montelaro is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with secondary appointments in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology (Graduate School or Public Health) and the Department of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases. He serves as the Co-Director of the Center for Vaccine Research and the Scientific Director of the Peptide Synthesis Core. He received his PhD in Biochemistry in 1975 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interest is in viral immunology and vaccine development, especially as related to AIDS, emerging diseases, and biodefense.
The primary focus of the Montelaro lab is to elucidate the intricate interactions between viral pathogens and host immune responses to determine the mechanisms by with host immunity contributes to protection and disease and to serve as a basis for the development of effective vaccines. A particular interest of the lab is to develop effective strategies to overcome the challenge of natural viral antigenic variation that has evolved as a common complication to the development of effective vaccines to important viral diseases, including those related to biodefense and emerging infectious diseases. Systems currently under investigation include HIV-1 and related animal lentiviruses (SHIV, SIV, and EIAV). Studies in these systems include investigation of the nature and role of antigenic variation during infection, the development of novel assays to characterize virus-specific innate, humoral, and cellular immune responses, and the design of engineered immunogens for effective vaccination against variant strains of a particular virus. In addition to these vaccine related studies, the lab also maintains a research program to develop novel de novo antimicrobial peptides (engineered cationic amphipathic peptides, or eCAPs) that can be used to inactivate a diverse spectrum of bacteria or enveloped viruses in a prophylactic or therapeutic treatment modalities.