In their search for new and more effective vaccines, OHSU scientists are still unraveling the intricacies of those operations of the immune system that protect us from microbial infection. By understanding the mechanisms involved with improving T cell and B cell responses to foreign antigens, we will be able to develop more effective vaccines against viruses and other microbial pathogens.
Mark Slifka, Ph.D. and his colleagues are investigating the underlying mechanisms of humoral and cell-mediated immunity against acute and chronic viral infections. This work has included developing several models of viral infection and/or vaccination in order to address basic immunological questions related to the development and maintenance of long-term protective immunity. This is collectively referred to as “immunological memory”. Dr. Slifka’s group has also developed a series of clinical studies in which they analyze immunological memory directly in human subjects. During the course of this work, they study a number of viruses including arenaviruses (lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, LCMV), alphaviruses (chikungunya virus, Eastern-, Western-, and Venezualen equine encephalitis viruses), orthopoxviruses (vaccinia, cowpox, monkeypox, smallpox) and flaviviruses (West Nile virus, yellow fever, dengue and zika).
The combination of basic research in animal models and applied research in clinical studies involving both healthy and immunocompromised populations has provided the opportunity to better define the requirements for immunological memory and to learn how to develop more effective diagnostics and vaccine candidates.
These experiments lay the foundation for future studies in which Slifka and his team plan to develop new vaccines and determine the mechanisms involved with building strong vaccine-induced immunity. They have discovered a new hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-based approach to vaccine development that results in safer, more effective human and animal vaccines. Dr. Slifka and his colleagues recently launched a first-in-man H2O2-based West Nile virus vaccine clinical trial. Details of the Phase I clinical trial describing HydroVax-001 West Nile virus can be found at ClinicalTrials.gov (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02337868).
Areas of interest
- Immunological memory
- Memory B cells & plasma cells
- Memory T cells
- Ph.D., UCLA School of Medicine 1996
Honors and awards
- AAAS • Robert I. Larus Award (1991)
- AAAS • Geraldine K. Lindsay Award (1991)
- AAAS • Outstanding Presentation in the Biological Sciences (1991)
- Association of Research Professors Award (1992)
- The Scripps Society of Fellows Award (1997)
- ICAAC Young Investigator Award (1998)
- OHSU Commercialization Award (2004)
- OHSU Commercialization Award (2005)
- OHSU Technology Innovation Award; Top 10 Industry Collaborations (2009)
- CHAVI Visiting Professor at Duke University Medical Center (2010)
- Visiting Professor at the Mayo Clinic (2012)
- Vaccine, Council of 100 (2013)
- Fellow of the International Society for Vaccines (2014)
Memberships and associations
- Journal of Virology, Editorial Board 2005-Present
- Journal of Immunology, Editorial Board 2006-Present
- Virology, Editorial Board 2007-Present
- Vaccine, Editorial Board 2013-Present
- npg Vaccines, Editorial Board 2016-Present
- Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, Editorial Board 2016-Present
Slifka MK, Leung DY, Hammarlund E, Raué HP, Simpson EL, Tofte S, Baig-Lewis S, David G, Lynn H, Woolson R, Hata T, Milgrom H, Hanifin J (2014). Transcutaneous yellow fever vaccination of subjects with or without atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014. 133(2):439-47. PMID: 24331381. PMCID: PMC3960337.
Slifka MK, Amanna I (2014). How advances in immunology provide insight into improving vaccine efficacy. Vaccine. May 23;32(25):2948-57. PMID: 24709587. PMCID: PMC4096845.
Hammarlund E, Thomas A, Poore EA, Amanna IJ, Rynko AE, Mori M, Chen Z, Slifka MK (2016). Durability of vaccine-induced immunity against tetanus and diphtheria toxins: A cross-sectional analysis. Clin Infect Dis. May 1;62(9):1111-8. PMID: 27060790.
Amanna IJ, Slifka MK (2016). Questions regarding the safety and duration of immunity following live yellow fever vaccination. Expert Rev Vaccines. 2016 Dec;15(12):1519-1533. Epub 2016 Jun 20. PMCID: PMC5171234.
Poore EA, Slifka DK, Raué HP, Thomas A, Hammarlund E, Quintel BK, Torrey LL, Slifka AM, Richner JM, Dubois ME, Johnson LP, Diamond MS, Slifka MK, Amanna IJ (2017). Pre-clinical development of a hydrogen peroxide-inactivated West Nile virus vaccine. Vaccine. 2017 Jan 5;35(2):283-292. PMID: 27919629. PMCID: PMC5191926.