Christian Brander obtained his PhD in Immunology from the University of Bern in 1994 with his studies on T-cell hypersensitivity to Penicillin and the mechanisms of exogenous antigen re-presentation on HLA class I. He then spent 13 years at Harvard University focusing on T cell immunity to viral infections and the impact of host genetics on these immune responses. He joined ICREA in 2008 with an appointment at the IrsiCaixa AIDS Research Institute to continue his work on cellular immunity to viral infections, including HIV, HCV and herpesviruses with a special focus on virus control in the transplantation and lymphoproliferative diseases. He is a co-inventor of the HTI immunogen, which is developed clinically by Aelix Therapeutics Inc. where he is a co-founder and CSO. He serves as the scientific director of the HIVACAT program, the Catalan project for the development of HIV vaccines and holds an Associate Professor position at the University of Vic and Central Catalonia.
Our group's aim is to understand the cellular immunity to viral infections in the immune compromised host, including HIV infected subjects and individuals undergoing organ transplantation. Using complementary sets of immune analyses and integrated -omics approaches, we seek to identify functional correlates of relative virus control and to explore the underlying mechanisms of such virus control by the cellular immune system. A main focus lies on the definition of biomarkers of controlled HIV infection, for which we analyse samples from individuals enrolled in in-house conducted vaccine trials and our cohorts of HIV controllers, acute HIV infection and highly-exposed, seronegative individuals. To better identify and characterize virus-specific T cell responses, we have developed new ("boosted") flow cytometry tools and combine methylome and communicome analyses to assess to what degree and at what stages of HIV infection their effector function profiles are epigenetically controlled.
Key wordsHIV, cellular immunity, host genetics, viral evolution, viral immunity in solid organ transplantation