Work in the Sodora Lab primarily focuses on two principal areas of HIV research: HIV transmission and HIV-induced disease and immune factors that impact progression to AIDS. Collectively, these research strategies are designed to produce novel vaccine approaches and immune therapies that will decrease the spread of HIV and/or prevent disease progression in HIV-infected people.
Current Research Projects
Our previous studies assessing SIV disease progression in non human primates have uncovered key insights as to how HIV/SIV infection results in inflammation that fuels disease progression and onset of AIDS. A current research project focuses on immune inflammation/dysfunction that occurs in the liver during HIV/SIV infection as well as during ART treatment. An understanding of the role of virus-infected cells, as well as the liver-associated microbiota, will be important in unraveling the mechanisms driving immune dysfunction in the liver during HIV/SIV infection. These studies also provide insights with regard to the viral reservoirs that are present within the liver during suppressive ART therapy. (Recent publication in PLOS Pathogens)
In addition, our lab uses the non-human primate model for HIV infection to better understand oral HIV transmission, which predominantly occurs during breastfeeding. Previously, we determined that following a successful oral infection with SIV, the virus travels to local lymph node before dispersing throughout other lymphoid organs in the body within 1 to 2 days after infection. One current project seeks to expand upon this study through evaluating the differential disease outcomes observed in SIV infected infants by comparing rapid to typical progressing animals. Assessment of humoral immune dysfunction, and more specifically of why the rapid-progressing animals are unable to produce SIV-specific antibodies, will be a key part of this study. (Publication under review)
A third project utilizes our knowledge of the oral route of transmission to devise innovative approaches to deliver HIV vaccines via the oral mucosa. This project is a collaboration with the Sather Lab here at Seattle Children's Reserach Insitute (their expertise is in the production of HIV vaccines and evaluating the anti-HIV adaptive immune response). The focus of the Sodora Laboratory is with regard to vaccine delivery (to the oral mucosa), assessment of the innate immune response following the vaccination and undertaking analyses to identify innate immune responses that are best for anti-HIV antibody production. Findings thus far have demonstrated that the oral mucosa is an effective vaccination site, and ongoing studies are designed to optimize the delivery as well as the anti-SIV humoral immune response to the vaccine. (Publication in preparation)
About Dr. Don Sodora
Don Sodora, PhD, is a professor at the Center for Global Infectious Disease Research. He joined in 2007 to advance the center’s mission in the field of HIV research. Don received his PhD in microbiology from the University of Pennsylvania. He performed postdoctoral research at Stanford University and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York. Sodora has collaborators in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Oregon, Northern Ireland and Cape Town, South Africa. He is dedicated to the training of undergraduate and graduate students, including serving on the Graduate Student Advisory Committee for the Pathobiology Graduate Program at the University of Washington. Outside of the lab, he enjoys spending time with his friends and family, traveling, hiking, taking photographs and camping.