James P. McGettigan, PhD

Contact Dr. McGettigan

1020 Locust Street
Jefferson Alumni Hall, Room 466
Philadelphia, PA 19107

(215) 503-4629
(215) 923-7144 fax


BS, Biology,  Pennsylvania State University,
State College, PA - 1986
PhD, Microbiology and Molecular Virology,
Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA - 2002

Research & Clinical Interest

The World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations report that almost 27 million people do not receive vaccines that are available and needed. Due to cost, complicated vaccine strategies and lack of availability, over two million deaths occur annually for otherwise preventable disease. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries, where it is clear that novel vaccines are needed. In addition, simple and less expensive vaccination strategies are also desirable for industrialized countries, where health care costs are becoming a major burden on the medical infrastructure. Therefore, it is our goal to create a new class of vaccines that are simple to administer, inexpensive and effective for use in both industrialized and developing countries.

Our laboratory is interested in identifying new vaccine platforms for use against human rabies virus infections. Rabies remains a global public health threat that kills an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 people per year. However, recent studies indicate that human rabies deaths may be up to 100 times higher than officially reported. It is the seventh most important infectious disease world-wide since it largely affects children. In 2006, rabies was the leading cause of death due to an infectious disease in China. Our vaccine is based on recombinant replication-deficient RV-based vectors, in which one of its five essential genes are deleted. These vectors are very safe and highly immunogenic, and may prove effective alternative vaccines against rabies virus. We are also investigating the use of our vaccines against other globally important infectious diseases, such as HIV-1 and influenza virus.

To support our vaccine research, we are investigating host innate and humoral immune responses to viral pathogens. Specifically, we are investigating the role for alternative antibody effector functions in vaccine design. Conventional vaccines work by inducing neutralizing antibodies that prevent infection. However, antibodies exert their anti-viral effects through a variety of mechanisms. Our laboratory is looking at how non-neutralizing antibody exert alternative antibody effector functions that can influence the outcome of vaccination. We can use this knowledge to rationally design future vaccine candidates.