Award Photo CVM  

Advancing the health and well-being of animals and people

Principal Investigator: M. Julia B. Felippe
Co-Principal Investigator: Rebecca Tallmadge Ingram

Department of Clinical Sciences
Contact Information: Email:; Phone: 607-253-3100
Sponsor: USDA-The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
Grant Number: 2012-67015-19459
Title: Advancing Neonatal Vaccination Strategies: A Molecular Approach to Monitor Immune Responses
Annual Direct Cost: $96,060
Project Period: 05/01/2012-04/30/2015

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Neonatal animals are exposed to a multitude of pathogens at birth that require robust immune responses in a timely manner; failure to do so may result in death. Despite great need, the value of neonatal vaccination is controversial: concerns exist regarding maternal antibody interference and the maturity level of the neonatal immune system. Evaluation of neonatal humoral vaccine responses has been limited and measured by circulating antibodies, which overlap with maternal antibodies. Nevertheless, there is evidence for protective immune responses after neonatal vaccination. Our goal is to evaluate the neonate’s competence for humoral response to vaccination using a unique molecular analysis of antibody diversity and the developmental regulation of antigen presenting cells. A major advantage of our sequence-based analysis is that it is not confounded by maternally-derived antibodies, which obscure the foal's antibody response.

Our strategic vaccination approach will investigate: 1) neonatal antibody production in response to protein vaccines; 2) neonatal antibody repertoire diversity; 3) how maternally-derived antibodies affect the production and diversity of neonatal antibodies; 4) how the neonatal response is improved with a vaccine booster; 5) neonatal cellular immune system recognition of vaccine antigens; and 6) progressive development of antigen presentation cells.

The long-term goal of this project is to establish effective neonatal vaccination strategies to induce robust, life-long immune responses, thereby preventing morbidity and mortality in animals. Importantly, our approach is applicable to any species and any pathogen.