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Contact Info

615 N. Wolfe Street, Roo E5150
410 614-8263

Research Interests

  • Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
  • HIV
  • pathogenesis
  • evolution
  • SCID
  • mouse
  • microbicide
  • vaccine
Experiences & Accomplishments
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Harvard University

1. A major recent effort of the laboratory has focused on the development of a novel vaccine platform that has demonstrated an ability to elicit profoundly elevated and sustained humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. The initial target for this platform has been malaria. This target was chosen for three reasons: 1. This disease represents one of the major public health problems confronting the world today. 2. The infrastructure at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Malaria Research Institute provides the tools necessary to carry this vaccine forward in mouse model systems, particularly an insectary and the availability of transgenic malaria strains enabling the testing of vaccine efficacy against human malaria targets in mice 3. The failure of the heavily funded, large scale clinical trial of the RTS,S malaria vaccine. This failure is, in my view, primarily attributable to the inability of this vaccine to elicit a sustained humoral immune response. 4. The ability to carry out direct challenge with drug sensitive malaria strains as part of Phase 1 clinical trials of the vaccine.

Our candidate vaccine fuses the vaccine antigen to a chemokine that targets the antigen to the immature dendritic cells that initiate the immune response. This vaccine construct elicits markedly elevated antibody concentrations that have been sustained at protective levels for 6 months in the mouse challenge systems, a time course previously unreported in this system. This finding of extended protection is of particular interest not simply because of its clinical relevance, but because it provides an opportunity to explore one of the critical questions of immunology and vaccine science in particular--the basis for extended immunological memory.

2. Use of a candidate vaccine platform for cancer immunotherapy.  Because of the marked efficacy of the vaccine platform in preventing malaria in mouse model systems, we are also evaluating its use as a therapeutic modality in mouse melanoma models.  Introducing some variations on the malaria vaccine approach, we have been able to extend survival 50% in treated mice.  We are expanding these studies for use in other cancer model systems and to apply this vaccine to novel approaches to cancer immunotherapy.

3. Use of toxin-fused camelid-derived single domain antibodies to treat viral infections. While the use of toxin-fused antibodies as a cancer therapeutic approach and has been considered for treating HIV, the use of camelid-derived single domain antibodies for this purpose has not been explored. The smaller size of single domain antibodies may enable engagement of proteins that would not be accessible to traditional antibodies. We have published data on the in vitro efficacy of this approach for HSV-2 and, in unpublished work, have developed a cross-clade reactive single domain antibody which is highly active and highly specific in eliminating HIV infected cells in in vitro systems.  Application of this approach to in vivo model systems will be undertaken in the near future.


Honors & Awards

1988    Fellow, Infectious Disease Society of America    
1993    Chair, Grant Review Committee, Agency for International Development    
1996    Member, Women's Interagency HIV Study Program Review Committee, NIH    
1997    Invited Speaker in Workshop on the Development of New Program Areas for the Division of Basic Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse   
2000    U.S. Patent 6,566,095-Compositions and methods for preventing transepithelial transmission of HIV—Inventors Richard Markham and Kristen Khanna, USPTO    
2001 - 2003    Chair, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Research Review Committee, NIAID NIH    
2004    Chair, NIAID Special Emphasis Panel to Review Program Project Proposal on Recombination, NIAID NIH    
2005    Member, Advisory Panel of AAAS to Evaluate DOD Programs for Engagement of Non-Russian Former Biowarfare Scientists, AAAS    
2009    Chair, Special Emphasis Panel on HIV Microbicides and Prevention, NIAID NIH    
2013    Member, NIH Review Panel on Cohort Studies of HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse, NIH    
2013    U.S. Patent 8,557,248-Methods and compositions for treating malaria –Inventor Richard Markham, USPTO

Select Publications

    Geoghegan, E. M., H. Zhang, P. J. Desai, A. Biragyn, and R. B. Markham. 2015. Antiviral activity of a single-domain antibody immunotoxin binding to glycoprotein D of herpes simplex virus 2. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 59: 527-535.



    Guedon, J. T., K. Luo, H. Zhang, and R. B. Markham. 2015. Monoclonal and Single Domain Antibodies Targeting beta-Integrin Subunits Block Sexual Transmission of HIV-1 in In Vitro and In Vivo Model Systems. Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes 69: 278-285.


    Luo, K., H. Zhang, F. Zavala, A. Biragyn, D. A. Espinosa, and R. B. Markham. 2014. Fusion of antigen to a dendritic cell targeting chemokine combined with adjuvant yields a malaria DNA vaccine with enhanced protective capabilities. PloS one 9: e90413.


    Khanna, K.V.,, K. J. Whaley, L. Zeitlin, T. R. Moench, K. Mehrazar, L. D. Shultz, R. A. Cone, Z. Liao, J. E. K. Hildreth, L. Shultz, T. Hoen, and R. B. Markham. Vaginal Transmission of Cell-Associated HIV-1 in the Mouse is Blocked by a Topical, Membrane-Modifying Agent. Journal of Clinical Investigation 109: 205-211. 2002.

  • Chancey, C. J., K. V. Khanna, J. F. Seegers, G. W. Zhang, J. Hildreth, A. Langan, and R. B. Markham. 2006. Lactobacilli-expressed single-chain variable fragment (scFv) specific for intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) blocks cell-associated HIV-1 transmission across a cervical epithelial monolayer. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 176: 5627-5636.

Development of a Malaria DNA Vaccine with Enhanced Immunogenicity