Dr. Ivana Parker – How HIV and Other Illnesses Can Be Tackled

Engineering Tools to Characterize Immune Responses Important for HIV Prevention

HIV remains a global epidemic, with 37.9 million people living with HIV worldwide (UNAIDS, 2018). Various prevention strategies, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and antiretroviral treatment in pregnant women with HIV have shown to be effective in decreasing HIV transmission. As these prevention strategies are becoming more commonly used, it is important to understand their effects on immune responses relevant for proper diagnosis and treatment.  In addition, elucidating inflammatory responses/mediators that can increase HIV susceptibility is also key to reducing HIV transmission. Altered immune responses in patients with HIV that occur as a response to novel PrEP modalities, are not well characterized and tools to characterize this altered response are lacking. Furthermore, as chronic inflammation is a factor known to increase HIV risk, it is important to understand mechanisms mediating these processes. This talk will discuss the methods I have developed to explore immune responses related to HIV prevention and diagnosis. These include characterization of HIV antibodies commonly used for diagnostic tests, and proteomics-based systems biology approaches used to analyze epigenetic mechanisms of inflammation shown to increase HIV risk in uninfected infants born to HIV positive mothers.

Brief Bio:

Dr. Ivana Parker is a Fulbright Scholar who recently completed a year-long study at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Her project assessed the risk of a commonly used tuberculosis vaccine, BCG, on HIV susceptibility in infants using proteomics and systems biology approaches.  She completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship as an American Society for Microbiology postdoctoral fellow at the Centers for Disease Control within the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.  At the CDC, she evaluated the impact of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on current diagnostic assay approaches and identified trends to optimize assay design. Ivana received her PhD in Bioengineering from Georgia Tech in 2015. Her thesis investigated the effects of pro-atherogenic shear stress, HIV proteins, and antiretroviral therapies on the vasculature using in vivo and in vitro models. During her time at Georgia Tech, she received the NSF graduate research fellowship and was selected to be a trainee on an NIH Cell and Tissue Engineering Training Grant. She also received a Whitaker Grant to develop artificial aortic valves in Cape Town, South Africa and facilitated set-up of a lab in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during her PhD training. Ivana earned her BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida in 2009.



Connect with Dr Parker on Twitter: @DRIKParker

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