- January 1, 2012 - NIAID CEIRS Training Award Centers for Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance Inter-collaborative Training
- April 20, 2012 -
First Place Award for the Graduate Student Society Merit Awards 2012. "This Award is presented to a School of Medicine and Dentistry graduate student in recognition of an outstanding presentation of thesis work."
Steven Baker graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, in 2007. He joined the PhD
program in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University
of Rochester, in 2009 after traveling and working in academic research
in immunology at the University of Rochester. Here, his projects defined
the effect of progesterone on differentiation of CD4 T cells, and evaluated
the role of T cell subsets in tumorigenesis and tumor immune clearance.
After rotating in laboratories that studied the interactions between pathogens and the immune system within the respiratory tract, he joined the laboratory
of Dr. Luis Martínez-Sobrido to pursue influenza virus research. When not
at the bench, Steven has enjoyed a myriad of career development opportunities at the University of Rochester through training and developing projects for international students, being a Teaching Assistant for a medical student laboratory course, and the frequent ability to present posters and oral presentations. Steven recently earned his Masters of Science from the University of Rochester in the fall of 2011.
Seasonal epidemics of influenza virus and the recent 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus merit the importance of influenza research, because despite our current therapeutics, deaths due to influenza-related illness range from 3 – 49,000 each year in the United States alone. Furthermore, influenza virus is considered an emerging pathogen because of its constant evolution away from immune inhibition. To improve upon the weapons we currently have against this deadly virus, the Martínez laboratory has developed a vaccine candidate that has proven both safe and protective in mice. The reverse-genetics derived single cycle infectious Influenza Virus (sciIV) was engineered by swapping the open reading frame of the receptor-binding protein, Hemagglutinin (HA), with that of a reporter gene (Green Fluorescent Protein, GFP). The sciIV is complemented in trans by mammalian cells that stably express HA. An advantage of deleting the major surface antigen HA is that the virus can easily be pseudotyped by propagating it in cells that express an HA of choice, which provides an opportunity to avoid preexisting immunity within the highly-exposed human population. Currently, he is studying the mechanisms of sciIV-induced protection by evaluating the role of the cell-mediated or humoral responses. During the Inter-collaborative Training Award, he will validate the protective efficacy of sciIV in an additional animal model, ferrets. Ferrets are advantageous in the study of influenza because the anatomy of their respiratory tract, and their symptoms due to influenza, more closely relate to humans than mice. Also, he will be using the ferret model to assess the effect of sciIV on preventing transmission within animals in close contact and between animals via aerosolized droplets.
Baker SF, Guo H, Martínez-Sobrido L, Topham DJ. Mechanisms of Protection Mediated by a Safe, Immunogenic, and Efficacious Single-Cycle Infectious Influenza Virus. Manuscript in preparation.