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Lab Members

Principal Investigator:

Ofer Levy Ofer Levy, MD, PhD
Staff Physician & Principal Investigator, Division of Infectious Diseases  
Director, Precision Vaccines Program 

Research Associates and Fellows:

Asimenia Angelidou, Levy LabAsimenia Angelidou, MD, PhD
Clinical Fellow, Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine 
Research Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases

Dr. Angelidou obtained her MD and PhD in Immunopharmacology from the University of Athens in Greece. She completed her pediatric residency in the University of Texas Southwestern and is completing her clinical fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital. 

Dr. Angelidou completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Tufts University where she studied and extensively published on the role of mast cell activation in autism spectrum disorders under the mentorship of Dr. Theoharides. She joined the Levy Lab in July 2015 with an interest in neonatal innate immunity and vaccinology. Her main project focuses on characterization of vaccine-induced primary and trained innate immune activation in newborns. Trained immunity alludes to previously activated innate immunity exhibiting altered responses to subsequent stimuli. This mechanism could mediate heterologous effects of live attenuated vaccines, such as Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), whereby a vaccine against one pathogen may also protect against others. This work can provide fundamental insights into the mechanisms by which common licensed neonatal vaccines protect in early life and can inform future early life vaccine development. 

Joann Arce, PhD
Research Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases

Francesco Borriello, MD
Research Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases

David Dowling, PhD
Project Manager, Adjuvant Discovery Program, Division of Infectious Diseases
Research Fellow in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Carlo Pietrasanta, Levy Lab

Carlo Pietrasanta, MD
Research Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases

Dr. Carlo Pietrasanta is a fellow in neonatology from Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico in Milan, Italy. He joined the Levy Lab in 2015 and his fields of interest are neonatal infectious diseases, ontogeny of the immune system and the development of new vaccine adjuvants that could boost the immune response to vaccines in early life. Dr. Pietrasanta is currently working on a neonatal murine model of dendritic cells generated from bone marrow precursors, that would allow the investigation in vitro of pattern recognition receptors agonist molecules, candidate to be age-specific vaccine adjuvants.

Guzman Sanchez-Schmitz, Levy Lab

Guzman Sanchez-Schmitz, MSc, PhD
Co-PI & Research Associate, Division of Infectious Diseases
Research Associate, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Sanchez-Schmitz has a dual-major in Chemistry and Biology, with a Masters Degree in Molecular Biology focused on Genetics and a Ph.D. in Immunology focused on Human Bioengineering. During his Ph.D. research work at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, he tested the effect of microphysiologic hypoxia on the autonomous development of dendritic cells from a human Tissue Construct. Thanks to his experience, he was invited to participate in a small biotech company funded by DARPA to develop a human model for Rapid Vaccine Assessment program. His successful work there produced many patents. After 5 years in industry, Dr. Sanchez-Schmitz was invited to join Dr. Levy at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard School of Medicine in 2010 where he was able to focus on his scientific passion: the design and development of human three-dimensional bioactive tissue constructs reproducing in vivo physiology. His new microphysiologic age-specific human Tissue Construct reproduces in vivo primary responses of neonates after in vitro immunization with licensed pediatric vaccines such as HBV, BCG, DTaP, PCV-13, and PCP. His work had helped to secure millions of dollars in grant money from sources such as DARPA, the NIH and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Sanchez-Schmitz is convinced that better, safer and more efficacious therapeutics for humans can be achieved by focusing pre-clinical selection of candidates on human cells under microphysiological conditions. His breakthrough work could provide fundamental insights into how vaccines, adjuvants, chemicals and biologicals, work in early human life. His more than 15 years of relevant experience in cutting-edge scientific research developing predictable in vitro human models that fatefully and reproducibly recapitulate the in vivo physiology of targeted organs, have lead to several peer-review publications, patents, Standard Operating Procedures, grants and sponsored research agreements. “I am extremely honored with the opportunity of been part of Dr. Levy’s Precision Vaccines Program here at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard School of Medicine ---Dr. Sanchez-Schmitz”.

Annette Scheid Precision Vaccines Program Annette Scheid, MD
Attending Neonatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Staff Scientist, Division of Infectious Diseases Boston Children’s Hospital

Dr. Scheid's current research interests are based on the hypothesis that accurate modeling of preterm immune responses to licensed vaccines tested alone or together with novel adjuvants will identify vaccine formulations capable of inducing robust preterm immune responses, thereby informing targeted preterm vaccine development. She is pursuing this hypothesis by characterizing preterm immune responses to licensed vaccines in relation to those of full-term newborns and adults and by determining whether vaccine efficacy towards preterm immune cells can be enhanced by combining vaccines or by adding an adjuvant or a live-attenuated vaccine such as BCG.

Simon van Haren, Levy LabSimon van Haren, PhD
Research Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases 

Dr. van Haren obtained his Ph.D at Utrecht University in The Netherlands, where he conducted immunological and biochemical research regarding the formation of Factor VIII-neutralizing antibodies in patients with hemophilia A. His research project was focused on the mechanism of endocytosis of Factor VIII by human dendritic cells, the presentation of antigenic peptides on MHC class II and the identification of antigen-specific CD4+ T cells. During his postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. Levy, his research has focused on characterizing age-specific immune responses to vaccine adjuvants. He has modeled the immune systems of newborns, 6-month old infants, adults and elderly individuals in different in vitro settings, such as whole blood, monocytes, monocyte-derived DCs, B-and T-cells and a microphysiological tissue construct. Supported by an Early Career Award from the Thrasher Research Fund, he initiated a project that aims to identify combinations of Toll-like receptor (TLR) and C-type lectin receptor (CLR) agonists that could overcome the classical impairment in Th1-polarization seen in newborns. This study has identified novel age-dependent synergy between specific TLR and CLR agonist combinations, which are currently under evaluation for their ability to enhance early life immunity against Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

Research Assistants:

Spencer Brightman, BA
Research Technician, Division of Infectious Diseases

Mark Liu, BA
Research Assistant I, Division of Infectious Diseases


Diana Vo, BA
Program Coordinator, Precision Vaccines Program, Division of Infectious Diseases

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