James Adeosun is a student at Clare College of the University of Cambridge who spent the summer working in the lab at VIC.

This summer, I was fortunate enough to spend 11 weeks at the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) in Boston, immersing myself in immunology research. The VIC is directed by Professor Mark Poznansky, whose enthusiasm for science emanates around the lab. The placement was absolutely fantastic! From a research standpoint, the work seemed to be right on the cutting edge of immunology. The project I was working on centered around their self-assembling vaccine technology, mainly in the context of a therapeutic HPV vaccine. Specifically, I was testing whether using microneedle arrays was a viable method of vaccine administration, whilst also developing an in vitro assay for testing both this and other vaccines. We also theorized a new vaccine model based on some literature from a Chlamydia trachomatis vaccine trial at Hammersmith. Additionally, I got to go to the main MGH campus and see a few patients with Prof. Poznansky, which was very exciting as a medical student; the hospital was incredibly impressive. Beyond the science, the lab environment was very inspiring, with people from many different backgrounds working towards similar aims. Frequent lab events meant that I felt very welcomed from the start, and very involved by the end. For example, I was asked to arrange weekly seminars for the intern cohort, led by principal investigators of the various labs within the VIC. I was also afforded an in-depth insight into some of the technicalities of research, such as the grant writing process, as well as the possibility of having a mixed clinician / research role. The city of Boston itself had lots to offer in the downtime. Excellent public facilities and social venues provided a great cultural experience. Highlights included the famous Boston Freedom Trail, as well as eateries serving variations of the popular local hit, clam chowder. Furthermore, Boston is closely apposed to many important tourist destinations. This allowed me to travel to both Cape Cod and NYC on separate weekend trips, providing a more rounded cultural experience of the USA. In summary, the placement afforded me the opportunity of a lifetime, both academically and in terms of broader life experience, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

Keystone Symposium selects Dr. Alagpulinsa for 2023 Fellows Program

David Alagpulinsa, PhD, Instructor in Medicine and Investigation at the MGH Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) and Harvard Medical School, has been selected to participate in the 2023 Keystone Symposia Fellows Program. Commenting on his selection to the program, Dr. Alagpulinsa noted a previous encounter with Keystone Symposia: “Many years ago whilst studying for a master’s degree in Pharmacology in Ghana, I won a Keystone Symposia Global Health Travel Award to attend a Keystone Symposia conference in Banff, Canada. Attending this conference formed the genesis of my scientific career abroad; I felt left out by most of the science that was presented at the conference because I didn’t have the kind of training and expertise to fully understand. Prior to that, I didn’t have any interest in schooling abroad, but I suddenly developed a strong longing to pursue my doctorate degree abroad, specifically the US because most of the scientists I met were from there. Now, I’m here embarking on biomedical research that I’m passionate about, thanks to Keystone Symposia.”

Dr. Alagpulinsa’s current research at VIC focuses on defining the mechanisms that underlie abnormal bone marrow and hematopoietic stem cell function that may contribute to disease etiology, specifically type 1 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Expressing gratitude for his selection to participate in the Keystone Symposia Fellows program, Dr. Alagpulinsa comments that “This program aims to provide the necessary training, network, and skills for early-career scientists from diverse populations to take on leadership and decision-making roles in academia or industry and I’m looking forward to having a great experience.”

The Keystone Symposium has served the biomedical and life sciences community for more than 50 years, acting as a key connector between eminent scientists across academic, industry, and government disciplines to provide a space for cross-disciplinary discussion and collaboration that lead to scientific breakthroughs monumental to humankind. Through the Fellows Program, early-career scientists from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds have access to unparalleled professional advancement opportunities including career-development workshops and related hands-on immersion experience, directly collaborating with distinguished scientists of the Scientific Advisory Board. The program focuses on accelerating the career development of selected scientists, generating a network to improve key skills necessary to pursue and achieve career goals.

Cancer-seeking molecular delivery system could boost immunotherapy drug, research finds

For past decades, the treatment of cancer has generally meant surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of the above. Through recent work from a collaboration of researchers from the University of Rhode Island and Yale University comes the promising new approach of delivering immunotherapy agents, STING agonists, via a cancer-seeking molecular delivery system. The delivery relies on the acid-seeking molecule- pHLIP. These molecules deliver cargo directly to the tumor environment via targeting of the high acidity of cancerous tumors. Through this novel drug delivery technique, cancer immunotherapy may become even more effective.

Continue reading

Congratulations to David Alagpulinsa, PhD, Research Fellow at VIC

Congratulations to David Alagpulinsa, PhD, Research Fellow at VIC, for the 2020 Physician/Scientist Development Award, sponsored by the MGH Executive Committee on Research.

David will be using the award to further his research into type 1 diabetes – “Harnessing CXCL12 signaling for immunoprotection, survival and regeneration of pancreatic islets in type 1 diabetes”.

“The MGH Center for Diversity and Inclusion has honored five MGHers with their annual faculty development awards. Katia Canenguez, PhD, EdM, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, received the 2020 Clinician-Teacher Development Award, sponsored by the MGPO. David Alagpulinsa, PhD, Infectious Disease Unit fellow; Ibiayi Dagogo-Jack, MD, Cancer Center physician; Christian Lino Cardenas, PharmD, MSc, PhD, Cardiovascular Research Center fellow; and Nneka Ufere, MD, Gastroenterology fellow, received 2020 Physician/Scientist Development Awards, sponsored by the MGH Executive Committee on Research.”

How a Mass General Vaccine Accelerator Could Play a Crucial Role in the COVID-19 Response

Mark Poznansky MD, PhD, A Steve and Deborah Gorlin MGH Research Scholar, explains his approach to developing a vaccine for COVID-19

“The current COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how quickly an emerging infectious disease (EID) can spread across the globe, threaten individual heath and wreak havoc on the economy and our way of lives.

Almost a decade before the current COVID-19 outbreak, Mass General investigator and Infectious Diseases Physician, Mark Poznansky, MD, PhD, received funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a platform for accelerated vaccine development in the event of a rapidly spreading EID.

That forward-thinking funding resulted in…”

Dr. Mark Poznansky was interviewed live on MSNBC

Dr. Mark Poznansky was interviewed live on All in with Chris Hayes MSNBC, April 14 to discuss vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chris acknowledged that Dr. Poznansky is beginning research on a vaccine at the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at MGH and the discussion was based around the timeline for a vaccine and the efficacy of a vaccine before it can be used on millions of people worldwide. Dr. Poznansky also said that links with industry are crucial in order to move forward with efficacy studies and manufacturing after the initial vaccine design and noted that we are collaborating with Voltron, Inc and Hoth Therapeutics for this purpose.