Dr. Montefiori is Professor and Director of the Laboratory for HIV and COVID-19 Vaccine Research & Development in the Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. His major research interests are viral immunology and HIV and COVID-19 vaccine development, with a special emphasis on neutralizing antibodies.
Multiple aspects of HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies are studied in his laboratory, including mechanisms of neutralization and escape, epitope diversity among the different genetic subtypes and geographic distributions of the virus, neutralizing epitopes, requirements to elicit protective neutralizing antibodies by vaccination, optimal combinations of neutralizing antibodies for immunoprophylaxis, and novel vaccine designs for HIV-1. Dr. Montefiori also directs large vaccine immune monitoring programs funded by the NIH and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that operate in compliance with Good Clinical Laboratory Practices and has served as a national and international resource for standardized assessments of neutralizing antibody responses in preclinical and clinical trials of candidate HIV vaccines since 1988.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic he turned his attention to SARS-CoV-2, with a special interest in emerging variants and how they might impact transmission, vaccines and immunotherapeutics. His rapid response to emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern provided some of the earliest evidence of the potential risk the variants pose to vaccines. In May 2020, his laboratory was recruited by the US Government to lead the national neutralizing antibody laboratory program for COVID-19 vaccines.
His laboratory utilizes FDA approved validated assay criteria to facilitate regulatory approvals of COVID-19 vaccines. He has published over 750 original research papers that have helped shape the scientific rationale for antibody-based vaccines.