Jones Seminar: Rules of Engagement — Design principles for effective antiviral immunity

Margie Ackerman, Assistant Professor of Engineering, Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth

Friday, February 3, 2017, 3:30–4:30pm

Rm. 100 (Spanos Auditorium), Cummings Hall

Antibodies act as a nexus between innate and adaptive immunity: they provide a means to target the potent toxic activities of a spectrum of innate immune effector cells in order to clear viral particles and infected cells. This functional landscape is remarkably complex, with multiple antibody variants directed to multiple epitopes on multiple viral antigens. This diversity of viral recognition characteristics is further complemented by diversity in each antibody’s ability to recruit the potent anti-viral effector functions of a suite of innate immune effector cells such as Natural Killer cells and phagocytes. Results from both human and animal model studies have implicated these effector functions in vaccine-mediated protection, but the complexity of these activities has challenged traditional methods of evaluating antibody responses. We demonstrate how high-throughput, high-content platforms for the biophysical and functional interrogation of the innate immune recruiting capacity of diverse virus-specific antibodies are capable of parsing this complex molecular landscape into components that can be used to develop computational models of antibody activity and provide insights into mechanisms of vaccination and new prospects for engineering innovative antibody therapies.

About the Speaker

Margie Ackerman is an assistant professor of engineering at Dartmouth. Following receipt of a PhD in molecular engineering from MIT, she spent a year as a Harvard Center for AIDS Research Fellow before moving to Dartmouth, where she now also holds appointments in Microbiology and Immunology, Chemistry, and the Program in Quantitative Biological Sciences. The Ackerman laboratory conducts interdisciplinary research at the interface of biomedical and engineering sciences: developing high throughput tools to evaluate and enhance the antibody response in disease states ranging from infection to cancer in order to aid in therapeutic antibody and vaccine design and development. These efforts aim to define and improve upon the protective mechanisms of antibodies using approaches grounded in fundamental engineering principles and utilizing protein evolution, molecular biology, and mathematical modeling.

For more information, contact Jessica Widdicombe at