Dr Rob Center
Senior Research Officer and Burnet Institute Senior Fellow
Disease Elimination Program
Research ActivitiesThe current major focus of my work is the development of vaccines for HIV and HCV. We aim to generate protective antibodies that can bind to the HIV Env protein and block target-cell recognition and/or viral entry and subsequent infection. The functional HIV Env protein is a trimer, and the adoption of trimeric structure modulates the way the human immune system recognizes the Env protein. The quaternary structure is also critical for the immunogenicity of the HCV E2 protein, which is our HCV vaccine target. We are developing techniques for the efficient expression and purification of Env and E2 oligomers for testing as vaccines. A hurdle to both vaccines is the variability of many parts of the Env and E2 between different viral strains. By engineering these proteins to preferentially expose the less variable regions we aim to generate antibodies capable of blocking infection caused by diverse viral isolates. I am also involved in basic research studies focusing on the structure and function of the Env and E2 proteins.
CollaborationsDr Charani Ranasinghe, Australian National University
Prof Stephen Kent
Dr Fasseli Coulibaly
Dr Matthew Parsons