HMS Virology

Virology Faculty Member - Galit Alter

Galit Alter

Associate Professor of Medicine
Kristine and Bob Higgins MGH Research Scholar
Director, Ragon Institute Imaging Core
Director, Harvard Center for Aids Research Immunology Core

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard
400 Main Street
Cambridge, MA, 02142

Tel: 617-857-268-7003
Lab Members: Staff Scientists: 2, Post-Docs: 7, Technicians: 11, Administrators: 1

The role of Natural Killer Cells in Chronic Viral Infections

-Potential vaccine induced recruitment of innate immunity through Fc-receptors

-Role of NK cell in tissues

Galit Alter received her PhD in experimental medicine from McGill University, and is currently an Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Over the past 8 years her research has focused on understanding the role of the innate immune response to chronic viral infections, including HIV and HCV, with a focus on defining the role of Natural Killer (NK) cells in antiviral control. Recently, these studies have shifted gears to begin to define the mechanism by which these innate immune effector cells may be harnessed through vaccination to gain more effective control over viral replication. To do this, her current research interests lie in defining the role of innate immune recruiting antibodies in providing protection from infection. Specifically, she is working towards defining the pathways that result in the targeted production of “protective” antibody glycans to enhance the production of antibodies that can potently block infections.

Advancement in understanding how to manipulate the antibody glycan in a targeted manner through vaccination will also lead to the generation of vaccines with broader applications by extending to the improvement of therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of malignancies and autoimmune diseases as well. This knowledge will provide insights into natural antibody glycovariation, and lead to the development of novel approaches to strategically tailor vaccines to induce innate immune cell-recruiting antibodies, with the hope that these findings will ultimately revolutionize the application of vaccines to treat and prevent a remarkably larger range of diseases.

Last Update: 10/23/2013


Alter G, Teigen N, Meier A, Lichterfeld M, Rosenberg ES, Altfeld M. Dynamic evolution of innate and adaptive immunity in acute HIV-1 infection. J. Infect Dis. 2007 May 15;195(10):1452-60.

Alter G, Suscovich T, Teigen N, Meier A, Streeck H, and Altfeld M. Single-Stranded RNA Derived from HIV-1 Serves as a Potent Activator of NK Cells. J Immunol. 2007 Jun 15;178(12):7658-66.

Alter G, Meier A, Teigen N, Streeck H, Altfeld M. MyD88-dependent Immune Activation mediated by HIV-1-encoded TLR Ligands. J Virol. 2007 May 16.

Alter G, Martin M, Teigen N, Carr W, Suscovich T, Schneidewind A, Streeck H, Waring MT, Meier A, Brander B, Lifson J, Allen T, Carrington M, Altfeld M.. Differential Natural Killer cell mediated inhibition of HIV-1 replication based on distinct KIR/HLA subtypes. J Exp Med. 2007 Nov 26;204(12):3027-36.

Alter G, Teigen N, Cohen K, Meier A, Streeck H, Altfeld M. Inhibition of HIV-specific CD8+ T cell by Killer immunoglobulin like receptors. Journal of Virology. 2008 Nov.

Alter G. and Altfeld M. NK cells in HIV-1 infection: evidence for their role in the control of HIV-1 infection. J intern Med. 2009 Jan; 265(1): 29-42.

Alter G, Suzannah Rihn, Katharine Walters, Anne Nolting, Maureen Martin, Eric S. Rosenberg, Jeffrey S. Miller, Mary Carrington, and Marcus Altfeld HLA class I subtype dependent expansion of KIR3DS1+ and KIR3DL1+ NK cells during acute HIV-1 infection J Virol. 2009 Jul;83(13):6798-805. Epub 2009 Apr 22.

Liu Q , Sun Y , Rihn S , Nolting A , Tsoukas PN , Jost S , Cohen K , Walker B , Alter G . Matrix Metalloprotease inhibitors restore impaired NK cell mediated Antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity in human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection. J Virol. Epub 2009 Jun 24

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