Andrew Ward, PhD
Professor, Integrative Structural and Computational Biology
Membrane protein transporters mediate the passage of a wide variety of molecules into and out of the cell. The molecular details underlying the function of most transporters are still unknown. Thus, my group is interested in studying novel membrane proteins using x-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, and other biophysical techniques.
Membrane proteins expressed on the surface of enveloped viruses mediate viral entry into the cell by recognizing cell surface receptors and initiating endocytosis or membrane fusion. Recently, broadly neutralizing antibodies targeting these surface spikes have been shown to provide protection against viruses such as HIV and influenza. We are trying to better understand how these antibodies bind to and neutralize viruses. Using single particle electron microscopy and electron tomography we are able to visualize these complexes and whole viruses, providing information about the mechanism of inhibition and aiding in the design of better immunogens for eliciting a broadly neutralizing antibody response in humans.