Peter Beernink, PhD

Assoc Professor in Residence
Pediatrics
Research Description: 

My laboratory is focused on understanding specific molecular interactions between host and pathogen, in particular between complement Factor H and Neisserial surface proteins. These investigations are directly applicable for developing improved vaccines for prevention of disease caused by the bacteria from the genus Neisseria. These microbes colonize mucous membranes, which can lead to invasive infections including sepsis, meningitis, urethritis and other infections. Our research includes genetic, biochemical and immunological studies of Neisserial surface antigens, including meningococcal Factor H binding protein and Neisserial surface protein A. These proteins are important for virulence because they recruit complement Factor H to the bacterial surface, which enables the bacteria to evade host immunity. Our studies are expected to elucidate mechanisms of pathogenesis and protective antibody function and to lead to next-generation Neisserial vaccines.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Virology & Microbial Pathogenesis
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Immunology
Research Summary: 
My laboratory investigates molecular interactions among microbial vaccine antigens, host antibodies, and other immune system proteins.
Featured Publications: 

Crystal structure reveals vaccine elicited bactericidal human antibody targeting a conserved epitope on meningococcal fHbp.

Nature communications

López-Sagaseta J, Beernink PT, Bianchi F, Santini L, Frigimelica E, Lucas AH, Pizza M, Bottomley MJ

Enhanced protective antibody to a mutant meningococcal factor H-binding protein with low-factor H binding.

JCI insight

Granoff DM, Giuntini S, Gowans FA, Lujan E, Sharkey K, Beernink PT

A meningococcal vaccine antigen engineered to increase thermal stability and stabilize protective epitopes.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Konar M, Pajon R, Beernink PT

A meningococcal factor H binding protein mutant that eliminates factor H binding enhances protective antibody responses to vaccination.

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Beernink PT, Shaughnessy J, Braga EM, Liu Q, Rice PA, Ram S, Granoff DM