Barney Graham is an immunologist, virologist, and vaccinologist recognized for his work on viral pathogenesis and vaccine development. He is especially known for his studies on RSV pathogenesis and immunity and the application of atomic-level structure, protein-engineering, mRNA delivery technology for making safe and effective vaccines. Graham was raised in rural Kansas. After obtaining a BA in biology from Rice University and an MD from the University of Kansas School of Medicine, he completed internship, residency, chief residencies, Infectious Diseases fellowship, and PhD in Microbiology & Immunology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine where he was on the faculty until joining the NIAID Vaccine Research Center at NIH as a founding member in 2000. He retired as Deputy Director of the VRC in 2021 and is now Professor of Medicine & Microbiology, Biochemistry, Immunology and Senior Advisor for Global Health Equity at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was named one of the world’s 100 most influential individuals and one of the Heroes of the Year in 2021 by Time magazine and recognized as the Federal Employee of the Year by the Partnership for Public Service for his work on COVID-19 vaccine development.

Research Interests

Barney Graham's research has focused on pathogenesis, immunity, and vaccine development for viral diseases. He has studied basic aspects of respiratory syncytial virus and the immunological basis of vaccine-enhanced disease. This work involved studies in mice to define T cell function and regulation, and evaluation of RSV F glycoprotein conformational determinants of antigenicity. RSV F is a class 1 fusion protein and undergoes a dramatic refolding to mediate virus entry. The prefusion form of F was found to be a much better vaccine antigen than the rearranged postfusion molecule and that observation has been extended to the fusion proteins of other enveloped viruses including the Coronaviridae. He is a thought leader on emerging viral diseases and pandemic preparedness and is particularly recognized for his research on respiratory viruses, structure-based vaccine design, and application of mRNA delivery technology. He has been involved in the advanced evaluation of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies for HIV, Ebola, and Chikungunya, and developed novel vaccines for RSV, influenza, Zika, paramyxoviruses, and coronaviruses. His prior work to understand viral pathogenesis for vaccine safety, antigen design for vaccine efficacy, and the use of advanced technologies for reagent development, vaccine delivery and manufacturing were central to the rapid development of vaccines and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19. He is now working towards achieving global equity with respect to vaccine development, manufacturing, and access.

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Section 44: Microbial Biology