Develops vaccines for AIDS and cancer
George Pavlakis is the Senior Investigator and the Head of Human Retrovirus Section at the National Cancer Institute in US. The Human Retrovirus Section designs, develops and tests vaccines and immunotherapies for AIDS and cancer.
Dr. Pavlakis has focused his research on the biology and pathogenesis of human retroviruses, especially HIV‐1. His interests include the molecular biology of HIV‐1; the pathogenic mechanisms leading to AIDS; and the development of models of human disease, new technologies to study gene function, and improved methods for gene transfer and gene therapy. The present emphasis in his group is the development of AIDS and cancer vaccines and immunotherapies.
Dr. Pavlakis received his M.D. from the University of Athens, Greece, and his Ph.D. from Syracuse University. He has been associated with the NCI since 1980 and is currently chief of the Human Retrovirus Section.
“The Human Retrovirus Section designs, develops and tests vaccines and immunotherapies for AIDS and cancer. We study the role and application of cytokines in vaccines and cancer immunotherapy. The Human Retrovirus Section focuses on the development of innovative vaccines and immunotherapies for AIDS and cancer based on the understanding of basic mechanisms, and by combining our expertise in molecular biology, virology and immunology”, as Pavlakis describes in the site of National Cancer Institute.
“A major focus is presently directed towards DNA vaccine development. We aim to improve DNA vaccine platform technology and develop immunogens able to prevent HIV infection or progression to AIDS. This is achieved by optimizing DNA vaccine expression, delivery, immunogenicity as well as synergy with other vaccine modalities. The strong and effective cellular immunity achieved by optimized DNA is also an important consideration for the expanding field of cancer vaccines. A related focus area is the study of the biology and clinical applications of cytokines in vaccines and immunotherapies for cancer. This work is a direct extension of our previous studies and represents a translational component of our basic science accomplishments” he added.
Pavlakis has directed both basic research and clinical development projects based on his pioneering research achievements. Dr. Pavlakis has extensive research and development experience in molecular biology, virology, and immunology. He is credited with the first production of mature human hormones in mammalian cells by recombinant DNA technologies. This methodology is still in commercial production (human Growth Hormone).
Dr. Pavlakis co-developed codon/RNA optimization methods that have found wide applications in biotechnology, gene therapy protocols and DNA vaccines. He developed DNA vaccines for HIV and showed they provide strong and long lasting immunity. He developed strong fluorescent GFP mutants that are in wide use in biology. He studied the molecular biology, genetic organization and expression strategy of HIV and discovered important functions of its regulatory factors Tat and Rev. His studies have provided new insights on the biology of several viruses, and have aided the development of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. His work has also led to the development of innovative biotechnology drugs and gene therapy procedures.
Dr. Pavlakis is member of several professional societies, including the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the American Association of Physicians. He is a highly cited researcher, has authored more than 200 publications and is inventor of more than 50 US and International patents.