HIV vaccine development:

The Puzzle of Spike Proteins


Dr. Mehran Kardar

BA Cambridge'79 , PhD MIT'83
Francis Friedman Professor of Physics, MIT

Join us for dinner and a presentation by Professor Mehran Kardar, the Francis Friedman Professor of Physics at MIT, on the evolution of HIV spike density and how researchers can use this knowledge to inform HIV vaccine development.

The spike protein on the envelope of a virus mediates its entry into the host cell, and high spike densities promote infection. While most viruses have high spike density, HIV has almost hundred times fewer spikes, a puzzle that we would like to unravel. The targets of HIV are host immune cells associated with the production of antibodies that neutralize infection. By modeling maturation of antibodies as a rapid form of evolution, we show that an intermediate spike density promotes the strongest antibodies. Thus, viruses may have evolved to have extreme spike densities (high or low) to evade potent antibody response. Kardar suggests that the depletion of immune cells associated with antibody production at the outset of HIV infection provides an evolutionary explanation for the low spike density of HIV. This understanding furnishes guidance for design of synthetic vaccine particles.


  • Salad
    • Mixed Greens Salad, Grape tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and croutons with ranch dressing and balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Entrées
    • Salmon Piccata, Fresh herbs, finished with garlic, lemon butter sauce and fresh parsley
    • Dijon and Herb-Crusted Tri-Tip Steak (GF), Accompanied by roasted tri-color fingerling potatoes
    • Beyond Meat Cacciatore (Vegan, GF), Topped with mushroom, grilled onions, and roasted tomatoes
  • Sides
    • Chef's Choice Vegetable & Starch
  • Dessert
    • Chef’s assorted sweets

Plus beer, wine, soft drinks, coffee & tea

This event is run by the MIT Club of Washington, DC

Click here to RSVP!!!

Mass transit: Metro Center

Jared_Bernstein__CEA_Member_1_.pngMehran Kardar is the Francis Friedman Professor of Physics at MIT. Born and educated through high school in Tehran (Iran), he obtained a BA degree from Cambridge University (UK) in 1979, and a PhD in Physics from MIT in 1983. He was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows for three years, before joining MIT faculty in 1986. His specialty is Statistical Physics, having authored two textbooks in this field, and conducted research on a variety of topics spanning soft-matter, biophysics, and fluctuation-induced phenomena. Prof. Kardar is the recipient of a number of awards including the A.P. Sloan Fellowship, Presidential Young Investigator Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Award. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.

May 01, 2023 at 7:00pm - 9pm

Hogan Lovells

555 13th St NW
13th fl
Washington, DC 20004
United States

Mark Johnston


$55.00 USD

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