Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Thomas Jefferson University
Research and Clinical Interests
A major focus of the Root laboratory is the mechanism of HIV-1 entry and its inhibition. Our research has probed the structure and function of gp41, part of the surface glycoprotein complex Env that promotes fusion of viral and cellular membranes. In collaboration with Drs. Dennis Burton and Michael Zwick at the Scripps Research Institute (California), we are attempting to develop a neutralizing antibody response to structured epitope in the C-terminal region of the gp41 ectodomain. This epitope in its α-helical conformation is the target of the engineered protein 5-Helix, which inhibits HIV-1 entry at nanomolar concentrations. Membership in the Jefferson Vaccine Center will expose me to affiliates of the Jefferson community with expertise in vaccine development whose knowledge and advice could greatly facilitate this and future research endeavors.