Leveraging longitudinal COVID-19 vaccine cohorts to deconstruct SARS-CoV-2-specific adaptive immune responses and the potential for viral infection to induce immune amnesia
Supervisor: Mark Brockman
Co-supervisor: Zabrina Brumme
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has resulted in >400 million documented infections and ~6 million deaths worldwide. Safe and effective vaccines have significantly reduced morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19, but even the newest bivalent vaccines provide only limited protection against infection with current SARS-CoV-2 variants. Further in-depth analyses of immune responses to COVID-19 vaccines and SARS-CoV-2 infection are needed. Moreover, the rise in non-COVID-19 respiratory infections in 2022 has led to speculation that SARS-CoV-2 may impair immune responses to other pathogens. This is plausible since SARS-CoV-2 can dysregulate B cells, the specialized immune cells that produce antibodies, but few studies have examined this. My research will examine the generation of B cell responses against the original (ancestral) SARS-CoV-2 and newer Omicron variants in a diverse cohort of vaccinated adults. I will characterize B cells that cross-react with ancestral and variant Spike, which are likely to help protect against new strains. Finally, I will explore the consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection on B cell responses to other respiratory viruses.