Viral Immune Evasion and Vaccines (VIRIEVAC)


Principal Investigator: Julia García Prado


VIRIEVAC was launched in 2013 and our initial research interest was the identification of viral and host factors associated with HIV-1 extreme disease phenotypes. These studies brought to light the limitations of the antiviral CD8+ T-cell response in controlling the disease. In recent years, our research interest has switched to delineating the functional boundaries of viral pathogenesis and the role of the antiviral CD8+ T-cell response in controlling or eliminating viral infections. From a basic-translational research perspective, our group combines tools from molecular virology, biochemistry, T-cell immunology and systems immunology, focusing on the host-pathogen interaction interface, with the ultimate goal of designing advanced immunotherapies that restore antiviral immunity against HIV-1 and other chronic viral infections and so contribute to curing these diseases.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as a contribution to faster vaccine design, our group is actively working to understand protective T-cell immunity against SARS-CoV-2.

VIRIEVAC research lines are as follows:

  • Pathogenesis. Identification of viral and host factors associated with disease outcomes.  Our studies focus on various cohorts of HIV extreme disease phenotypes (both children and adults) associated with natural infection control (elite controllers and viraemic non-progressors) and also on rapid progressors.
  • Persistence, remission and cure. Delineation of the functional boundaries of the antiviral CD8+ T-cell response to HIV infection to control or eradicate the reservoir and translation of the findings to other persistent viral infections. This line of research aims to characterize the mechanisms of CD8+ T-cell recognition of latently infected cells and understand T-cell immune dysfunction/exhaustion in both active and latent infection, as a major barrier to HIV remission and cure. Novel experimental models have been developed to monitor the reactivation and elimination of cells with latent HIV, identify new latency-reversing agents and design novel prototypes for immunotherapies to eliminate the HIV reservoir.
  • SARS-CoV2 cellular immunity. Characterization with high-resolution T-cell immunity to understand immunological memory against this novel virus to help drive forward pan-coronavirus vaccine development.

Keywords: immunotherapies, Pathogenesis, viral evasion, cellular response
Principal Investigator

Julia García Prado

Dr. Julia García Prado obtained a degree in Biochemistry, followed by a PhD in Immunology (honours) from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in 2005. A year after completing her PhD, on receiving a prestigious Marie Curie fellowship (European Research Council), she moved to...


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Irsi Caixa

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