John Rozehnal graduated from Brown University in December of 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology. He has been working with Dr. Anne De Groot since 2006 as part of GAIA@Brown, an organization dedicated to fundraising, education and HIV advocacy at Brown. John joined I’Cubed in May 2010 where his current research project involves creation of a single-chain antibody to be used as a vaccine delivery vector.

For six weeks this fall, John will be working at several sites in Bamako, Mali to validate the proposed GAIA HIV vaccine, to train local researchers to use the TRIAD toolkit and to screen local researchers for inclusion in the upcoming NTD@TRIAD fellowship.

The iVax technology that comprises the TRIAD Toolkit has predicted HIV epitopes to be included in the GAIA HIV Vaccine. However, all in silico predictions must be extensively validated, in this case in ex vivo lymphocyte testing. John will be validating A2 (a major immunological blood group) epitopes, and training other researchers to continue this validation with other subsets, to ensure that the vaccine we develop is functional and effective in as large a population as possible. Successfully pushing the GAIA HIV vaccine past the validation stage towards preclinical testing and eventually clinical trials will create exposure and publicity for the investigators that developed the vaccine.

We have an excellent relationship with our collaborators in Mali through which we are applying TRIAD’s computational technologies to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD@TRIAD). In order to to unleash the creative and analytical power of our team in Mali, John will train local researchers in Bamako to use the TRIAD Toolkit, an advanced vaccine development software platform developed in Providence. He will also act as a liason and facilitator for remote participation and training during the 4th annual Vaccine Rennaissance Conference taking place in Providence in October. With these tools, the team in Mali will be able to build a sustainable and robust research structure equipped to push toward locally endemic but often neglected diseases.