Andrew Ward, PhDProfessor, Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology at The Scripps Research Institute
The Ward lab uses electron microscopy to image viral and malarial antigens in complex with neutralizing antibodies and the structural data are then used to improve antibody-based therapies and rationally design vaccines. The Ward lab has published extensively on cryoEM studies of HIV envelope glycoprotein, including the first high-resolution structure of the soluble SOSIP trimer. This previously elusive target galvanized HIV subunit vaccine efforts, one of which is began human clinical trials 2020 as part of a large international effort. The Ward lab also solved the structure of a human coronavirus spike protein in 2016, which enabled structure-based vaccine design to create stabilized, pre-fusion subunit vaccine candidates SARS CoV-2 spike proteins. These '2P' mutations are being used to develop prefusion subunit vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). In 2018 the Ward lab developed a transformative EM imaging method to assess polyclonal antibody responses to spike-based subunit vaccines that now enables rapid iteration of vaccine design and implementation. We most recently demonstrated that this methodology can yield atomic-level details and antibodies can be sequenced directly from structural data, circumventing the expensive and laborious process of B cell isolation and cloning approaches currently employed to generate monoclonal antibodies.