Research

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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 Joann Arce, PhD
Research Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases




Dr. Joann Diray Arce completed her PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Biology at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Her PhD research is focused on the assembly and characterization of salt stress response and tolerance in halophyte plants using global profiling of the genes and proteins using next-generation transcriptomics and LC-MS/MS proteomics analysis. She also has studied on mitochondrial DNA replication systems in the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. Her experience in both advanced molecular biology and bioinformatics have expanded her interests to human immunology and in particular, systems biology using big data studies. She has current projects focused on in vitro modeling of age/sex-dependent responses on the metabolic profiles after vaccination. She is the key scientist of the Data Management Core (DMC) for the Expanded Program on Immunization Consortium-Human Immunology Project Consortium with roles of providing coordination, quality assurance, quality control and analysis of international metadata and systems vaccinology datasets with the goal of characterizing vaccine-induced OMIC signatures that protect newborns. This effort will enable direct comparison of signatures that correspond to immunogenicity across a range of vaccines/populations, including those that vary by age.


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


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”.

Simone Schueller , MDSimone Schüller, MD

Research Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases




Dr Schüller obtained her MD from the Medical University of Vienna in 2006 where she also completed her pediatric residency and clinical fellowship at the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology.  Dr Schüller’s laboratory training began in 2006 at the University Hospital Bern, Switzerland with a project on pregnancy-induced hypertension. Fascinated by the processes occurring during pregnancy and equipped with in vitro skills, Dr Schüller continued her research in the Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna. Supported and encouraged by a great team of specialists in the areas of neonatology, immunology, and flow cytometry Dr Schüller characterized preterm stem and immune cells in studies published between 2013 and 2017.

Awarded by a Max Kade fellowship Dr Schüller joined the Levy lab in May 2017.  Her research focus is neonatal immunology with a special interest in infectious diseases and immune ontogeny. Dr Schüller’s current project focuses on the characterization of neonatal innate immune pathways in antigen presenting cells to inform development of vaccines, anti-infectives and immunomodulatory drugs in the very young.


Pankaj Sharma, PhDPankaj Sharma, PhD

Research Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases




Dr. Sharma obtained his Ph.D. in parasite immunology from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. His Ph.D. research work was focused on the role of different mechanisms that activates the eosinophils mediated lung inflammation during parasitic infection. As a part of Ph.D. work, he employed proteomics approaches to study the role of different inflammatory intermediates released upon secondary parasitic infections from mucosal sites that lead to eosinophils rich infiltration to lung.  He also examined the role of Th-17 and Tregs homeostasis in the clearance and establishment of parasites during early phase of infections. He joined the Levy Lab in June 2017, and his project mainly focuses on characterization of mucosal antigen presenting cells and their responsiveness to different PRRs agonists. Mucosal immunization mounts the most effective protective immune responses, so a better understanding of responsiveness of the mucosal APC subsets to different agonist and antigens in newborn might lead to the development of new mucosal vaccines against many human respiratory diseases. 



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:

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

Juan Ramirez

Juan Ramirez, BS
Research Assistant I, Division of Infectious Diseases





Administrative: 

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





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