GPGG Student Wins 2014 Duke CHAVI-ID Pre-Doctoral Student Award

in Recent News
October 29th, 2014


Akshaya Ramesh, of the Kepler Lab and a student in the Genetics and Genomics Program, won the 2014 Duke CHAVI-ID Pre-Doctoral Student Award at the Third Annual Duke CHAVI-ID Retreat and Meeting, as well as an award for her poster presentation, “Macaque Immunogentics via ten Multi-resolution de-novo Genome Assemblies.”

One of the primary interests in the Kepler Lab is understanding the antibody (Immunoglobulin/Ig) repertoire dynamics of individuals after vaccination to better understand the process of antibody formation and affinity maturation. The lab is part of CHAVI-ID (Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID), which is a multi-institutional collaboration under the Global HIV vaccine enterprise whose primary goal is to design a practical preventive HIV-1 vaccine. The Duke CHAVI-ID meeting was held in Durham, NC this year and they presented their findings at this conference on September 29th, 2014. In addition to being awarded a prize for her poster presentation, Akshaya was awarded the CHAVI-ID Pre-Doctoral Student Award 2014 for her contribution towards HIV/AIDS vaccine research.

The Genetics Program would like to extend its warmest congratulations to Akshaya Ramesh on this important and well-deserved recognition of her thesis work.

Below is a summary of her research:

Over the last few years, high throughput sequencing of the Ig repertoire from infected human subjects as well as immunized Rhesus macaques has led to important insights into understanding the humoral response to HIV-1 and the development of vaccines against HIV-1. Further elucidation of the antibody response in these crucial animal studies will require substantially greater power to analyze the Ig repertoires than is currently possible; reliable information on macaque Ig genes is unavailable due to the incompleteness of the existing macaque Ig sequence data and the inherent difficulty of obtaining complete Ig genomic sequences. As part of her thesis project, Akshaya is working on generating one, complete whole genome sequence (WGS) of the Rhesus macaque and Ig loci sequence information from ten additional monkeys. Her research will make it possible to develop a carefully curated database of macaque Ig gene required to analyze macaque repertoire data fully and the annotated, WGS of the Rhesus macaque will have significant evolutionary and biomedical impact considering that they are extensively used animal models in research.

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Congratulations Akshaya!