Rajesh Thippeshappa, Ph.D.

Rajesh Thippeshappa, Ph.D., Staff Scientist I | Dr. Ricardo Carrion’s Lab

| Disease Intervention & Prevention, Host Pathogen Interaction, Southwest National Primate Research Center, Staff

Research Focus

Dr. Thippeshappa’s research experience is in HIV biology and vaccine immunology. He has a strong research interest in HIV vaccine development, cure research, and development of macaque models for HIV-1 infection/AIDS. His primary research focus is to develop a nonhuman primate (NHP) model for HIV-1 infection/AIDS, and to understand the barriers that prevent cross-species transmission of HIV-1 to macaques. He is also interested in understanding immune responses to pathogens and using that knowledge to develop novel therapeutics and vaccine strategies. His research projects focus on developing muscosal immunization strategies for delivery of HIV vaccines.

Inside the Lab

Development of pigtailed macaque model of HIV-1 infection:  We have developed a minimally modified HIV-1, named Human-Simian Immunodeficiency virus or HSIV, by substituting HIV-1 vif with vif gene from SIVmne027. We have shown that HSIV replicates persistently in pigtailed macaques. Our goal is conduct serial in vivo passaging to generate pathogenic variants.

Recombinant BCG expressing viral antigens as vaccine platform for infectious diseases: We have developed recombinant BCG expressing SARS-CoV-2 structural proteins such as spike RBD protein and nucleocapsid protein. We are interested in developing recombinant BCG prime and protein boost approach to induce SARS-CoV-2 specific immune responses.

He is also interested in developing novel attenuated vectors for HIV-1 vaccine development.

Main Technologies and Methods Used

  • Construction of infectious HIV molecular clones
  • Construction of recombinant BCG expressing viral antigens
  • Immunology, virology and molecular biology techniques to understand vaccine-induced immune responses in mice and macaques