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Immunology and Microbial Science

J. Lindsay Whitton, M.D., Ph.D

Department of Immunology and Microbial Science
California Campus
Laboratory Website
(858) 784-7090

Scripps Research Joint Appointments

Faculty, Graduate Program

Research Focus

Viral Pathogenesis and Antiviral Immunity

My lab's research focuses on making life as difficult for viruses as they do for us. To this end, we work on: (i) antiviral immunity (how does the infected host control infection, & how do antiviral vaccines work?); and (ii) viral pathogenesis (how do viruses cause disease?). Most immune responses recognize short stretches of microbial protein, and T lymphocytes see peptides of around 9-16 amino acids in length. Our work on regulation of antiviral T cells has shown that these cells initiate and terminate their effector functions within moments of encountering the relevant peptide antigen. Our vaccine studies have shown that these short immunogenic peptides can be linked end to end in a "string of beads", resulting in a vaccine which, in one shot, can confer immunity against several pathogens. We are currently analyzing plasmid DNA vaccines, which work rather well, but whose underlying mechanisms remain unclear. For our studies on pathogenesis we employ coxsackievirus, which is a common cause of myocarditis (heart disease); we are evaluating the role of the immune system in this disease, and have found that we can interrupt certain components of the immune response, to relieve myocarditis without compromising the ability of the host to eradicate the infection.


Ph.D., Virology, University of Glasgow, 1984
M.D., Medicine, University of Glasgow, 1979

Awards & Professional Activities

Chair, Special Study Section on Vaccine Development, National Institutes of Health Member, Advisory Committee on Fellowships, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2000-2002, 2006-present Member, Special Review Panel, National Institutes of Health, May 2000 Ad Hoc Member, Experimental Virology Study Section, National Institutes of Health, 2000-present Ad Hoc Member, National Institutes of Health, Virology study section, 2001-present Member, Career Awards for Medical Scientist (CAMS) committee, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, 2007-present Member, review committee, American Heart Association, 2007-present.

Editorial Boards

Journal of Virology, 1993-present; Virology, 1997 - 2006 FEMS Medical Microbiology and Immunology, 1994 - present Viral Immunology, 1999 - present, Acting Editor in Chief, 9/05 - 12/06.


Editor, Virology, 2007-present; Acting Editor in Cheif, Viral Immunology, 9/05 - 12/06

Selected References

Leifert,J.A., J.A.Lindencrona, J.Charo, and J.L.Whitton. 2001. Enhancing T Cell Activation and Antiviral Protection by Introducing the HIV-1 Protein Transduction Domain into a DNA Vaccine. Hum.Gene Ther. 12: 1881-1892.

Rodriguez,F., S.Harkins, J.M.Redwine, Perada, and J.L.Whitton. 2001. CD4+ T cells induced by a DNA vaccine: immunological consequences of epitope-specific lysosomal targeting. J.Virol. 75: 10421-10430.

Slifka,M.K., R.R.Pagarigan, I.Mena, R.Feuer, and J.L.Whitton. 2001. Using recombinant coxsackievirus B3 to evaluate the induction and protective efficacy of CD8+ T cells in controlling picornaviral infection. J.Virol. 75 : 2377-2387.

Slifka,M.K. and J.L.Whitton. 2001. Functional avidity maturation of CD8+ T cells without selection of higher affinity TCR. Nat.Immunol. 2: 711-717.

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Andersen, Kristian G.
Baccala, Roberto
Burton, Dennis
Chisari, Frank
Choe, Hyeryun
Cochrane, Charles
Dai, Yang D
de la Torre, Juan C.
DerMardirossian, Celine
Edgington, Thomas S.
Elder, John
Farzan, Michael
Feeney, Ann
Franc, Nathalie
Gallay, Philippe
Garaigorta De Dios, Urtzi
Gavin, Amanda
Hangartner, Lars
Havran, Wendy
Kang, Young Jun
Kim, Dae Hee
Kirak, Oktay
Kono, Dwight
Kravchenko, Vladimir
Lasmezas, Corinne
Law, Mansun
Lawson, Brian
McHeyzer-Williams, Michael
Mosier, Donald
Nemazee, David
Nemerow, Glen
Oldstone, Michael B.A.
Petrie, Howard
Reisfeld, Ralph
Ruf, Wolfram
Saphire, Andrew
Saphire, Erica Ollmann
Sauer, Karsten
Schief, William
Sherman, Linda
Song, Byeong Doo
Sullivan, Brian
Teijaro, John
Tellinghuisen, Timothy
Teyton, Luc
Theofilopoulos, Argyrios
Ulevitch, Richard
Valente, Susana Tereno
Weissmann, Charles
Whitton, J. Lindsay
Wyatt, Richard
Xiao, Changchun
Zhu, Jiang
Zwick, Michael

Affiliated Faculty

Getzoff, Elizabeth
Janda, Kim
Kaufmann, Gunnar Joerg F
Paulson, James C.
Torbett, Bruce

Adjunct Faculty

Dennis, Edward
Ditzel, Henrik
Feuer, Ralph
Gascoigne, Nicholas
Ghazal, Peter
Guidotti, Luca
Han, Jiahuai
Isogawa, Masanori
Knaus, Ulla
Mackman, Nigel
Jameson, Julie
McGavern, Dorian
McKay, Dianne
Merson, James
Poignard, Pascal
Sette, Allessandro
Sigurdson, Christina
Sprent, Jonathan
Surh, Charles