Thomas B Kepler

University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (142)891.84 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In HIV-1, the ability to mount antibody responses to conserved, neutralizing epitopes is critical for protection. Here we have studied the light chain usage of human and rhesus macaque antibodies targeted to a dominant region of the HIV-1 envelope second variable (V2) region involving lysine (K) 169, the site of immune pressure in the RV144 vaccine efficacy trial. We found that humans and rhesus macaques used orthologous lambda variable gene segments encoding a glutamic acid-aspartic acid (ED) motif for K169 recognition. Structure determination of an unmutated ancestor antibody demonstrated that the V2 binding site was preconfigured for ED motif-mediated recognition prior to maturation. Thus, light chain usage for recognition of the site of immune pressure in the RV144 trial is highly conserved across species. These data indicate that the HIV-1 K169-recognizing ED motif has persisted over the diversification between rhesus macaques and humans, suggesting an evolutionary advantage of this antibody recognition mode. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Immunity 12/2014; 41(6):909-918. · 19.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Affinity maturation, the process in which somatic hypermutation and positive selection generate antibodies with increasing affinity for an antigen, is pivotal in acquired humoral immunity. We have studied the mechanism of affinity gain in a human B-cell lineage in which two main maturation pathways, diverging from a common ancestor, lead to three mature antibodies that neutralize a broad range of H1 influenza viruses. Previous work showed that increased affinity in the mature antibodies derives primarily from stabilization of the CDR H3 loop in the antigen-binding conformation. We have now used molecular dynamics simulations and existing crystal structures to identify potentially key maturation mutations, and we have characterized their effects on the CDR H3 loop and on antigen binding using further simulations and experimental affinity measurements, respectively. In the two maturation pathways, different contacts between light and heavy chains stabilize the CDR H3 loop. As few as two single-site mutations in each pathway can confer substantial loop stability, but none of them confers experimentally detectable stability on its own. Our results support models of the germinal center reaction in which two or more mutations can occur without concomitant selection and show how divergent pathways have yielded functionally equivalent antibodies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 12/2014; · 3.34 Impact Factor
  • AIDS research and human retroviruses. 10/2014; 30 Suppl 1:A19.
  • AIDS research and human retroviruses. 10/2014; 30 Suppl 1:A36.
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    ABSTRACT: Induction of HIV-1 broad neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) is a goal of HIV-1 vaccine development but has remained challenging partially due to unusual traits of bnAbs, including high somatic hypermutation (SHM) frequencies and in-frame insertions and deletions (indels). Here we examined the propensity and functional requirement for indels within HIV-1 bnAbs. High-throughput sequencing of the immunoglobulin (Ig) VHDJH genes in HIV-1 infected and uninfected individuals revealed that the indel frequency was elevated among HIV-1-infected subjects, with no unique properties attributable to bnAb-producing individuals. This increased indel occurrence depended only on the frequency of SHM point mutations. Indel-encoded regions were generally proximal to antigen binding sites. Additionally, reconstruction of a HIV-1 CD4-binding site bnAb clonal lineage revealed that a large compound VHDJH indel was required for bnAb activity. Thus, vaccine development should focus on designing regimens targeted at sustained activation of bnAb lineages to achieve the required SHM and indel events.
    Cell Host & Microbe 09/2014; 16(3):304-313. · 12.61 Impact Factor
  • Cell Host & Microbe 08/2014; 16(2):215–226. · 12.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A successful HIV-1 vaccine must elicit immune responses that impede mucosal virus transmission, though functional roles of protective HIV-1 Envelope (Env)-specific mucosal antibodies remain unclear. Colostrum is a rich source of readily accessible mucosal B cells that may help define the mucosal antibody response contributing to prevention of postnatal HIV-1 transmission. To examine the HIV-1 Env-specific colostrum B-cell repertoire, single B cells were isolated from 17 chronically HIV-infected, lactating women, producing 51 blood and 39 colostrum HIV-1 Env-specific B-cell antibodies. All HIV-1 Env-specific colostrum-derived antibodies were immunoglobulin (Ig)G1 isotype and had mean heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3 (CDR3) lengths and mutation frequencies similar to those isolated from blood. However, variable heavy chain (VH) gene subfamily 1(∼)69 usage was higher among colostrum than blood HIV-1 Env-reactive antibodies (49% vs. 20%, P=0.006, Fisher's exact test). Additionally, more HIV-1 Env-specific colostrum antibodies were gp120 specific than those isolated from blood (44% vs. 16%, P=0.005, Fisher's exact test). One cross-compartment HIV-1 Env-specific clonal B-cell lineage was identified. These unique characteristics of colostrum B-cell antibodies suggest selective homing of HIV-1-specific IgG1-secreting memory B cells to the mammary gland and have implications for targeting mucosal B-cell populations by vaccination.Mucosal Immunology advance online publication, 6 August 2014; doi:10.1038/mi.2014.69.
    Mucosal Immunology 08/2014; · 7.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Development of strategies for induction of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) by vaccines is a priority. Determining the steps of bnAb induction in HIV-1-infected individuals who make bnAbs is a key strategy for immunogen design. Here, we study the B cell response in a bnAb-producing individual and report cooperation between two B cell lineages to drive bnAb development. We isolated a virus-neutralizing antibody lineage that targeted an envelope region (loop D) and selected virus escape mutants that resulted in both enhanced bnAb lineage envelope binding and escape mutant neutralization-traits associated with increased B cell antigen drive. Thus, in this individual, two B cell lineages cooperated to induce the development of bnAbs. Design of vaccine immunogens that simultaneously drive both helper and broadly neutralizing B cell lineages may be important for vaccine-induced recapitulation of events that transpire during the maturation of neutralizing antibodies in HIV-1-infected individuals.
    Cell 07/2014; 158(3):481-91. · 31.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rapidly evolving pathogens, such as human immunodeficiency and influenza viruses, escape immune defenses provided by most vaccine-induced antibodies. Proposed strategies to elicit broadly neutralizing antibodies require a deeper understanding of antibody affinity maturation and evolution of the immune response to vaccination or infection. In HIV-infected individuals, viruses and B cells evolve together, creating a virus-antibody "arms race." Analysis of samples from an individual designated CH505 has illustrated the interplay between an antibody lineage, CH103, and autologous viruses at various time points. The CH103 antibodies, relatively broad in their neutralization spectrum, interact with the CD4 binding site of gp120, with a contact dominated by CDRH3. We show by analyzing structures of progenitor and intermediate antibodies and by correlating them with measurements of binding to various gp120s that there was a shift in the relative orientation of the light- and heavy-chain variable domains during evolution of the CH103 lineage. We further show that mutations leading to this conformational shift probably occurred in response to insertions in variable loop 5 (V5) of the HIV envelope. The shift displaced the tips of the light chain away from contact with V5, making room for the inserted residues, which had allowed escape from neutralization by the progenitor antibody. These results, which document the selective mechanism underlying this example of a virus-antibody arms race, illustrate the functional significance of affinity maturation by mutation outside the complementarity determining region surface of the antibody molecule.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Broadly HIV-1-neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs) display one or more unusual traits, including a long heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3 (HCDR3), polyreactivity, and high levels of somatic mutations. These shared characteristics suggest that BnAb development might be limited by immune tolerance controls. It has been postulated that HIV-1-infected individuals with autoimmune disease and defective immune tolerance mechanisms may produce BnAbs more readily than those without autoimmune diseases. In this study, we identified an HIV-1-infected individual with SLE who exhibited controlled viral load (<5,000 copies/ml) in the absence of controlling HLA phenotypes and developed plasma HIV-1 neutralization breadth. We collected memory B cells from this individual and isolated a BnAb, CH98, that targets the CD4 binding site (CD4bs) of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein 120 (gp120). CH98 bound to human antigens including dsDNA, which is specifically associated with SLE. Anti-dsDNA reactivity was also present in the patient's plasma. CH98 had a mutation frequency of 25% and 15% nt somatic mutations in the heavy and light chain variable domains, respectively, a long HCDR3, and a deletion in the light chain CDR1. The occurrence of anti-dsDNA reactivity by a HIV-1 CD4bs BnAb in an individual with SLE raises the possibility that some BnAbs and SLE-associated autoantibodies arise from similar pools of B cells.
    The Journal of clinical investigation 03/2014; · 15.39 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Affinity maturation of the antibody response is a fundamental process in adaptive immunity during which B-cells activated by infection or vaccination undergo rapid proliferation accompanied by the acquisition of point mutations in their rearranged immunoglobulin (Ig) genes and selection for increased affinity for the eliciting antigen. The rate of somatic hypermutation at any position within an Ig gene is known to depend strongly on the local DNA sequence, and Ig genes have region-specific codon biases that influence the local mutation rate within the gene resulting in increased differential mutability in the regions that encode the antigen-binding domains. We have isolated a set of clonally related natural Ig heavy chain-light chain pairs from an experimentally infected influenza patient, inferred the unmutated ancestral rearrangements and the maturation intermediates, and synthesized all the antibodies using recombinant methods. The lineage exhibits a remarkably uniform rate of improvement of the effective affinity to influenza hemagglutinin (HA) over evolutionary time, increasing 1000-fold overall from the unmutated ancestor to the best of the observed antibodies. Furthermore, analysis of selection reveals that selection and mutation bias were concordant even at the level of maturation to a single antigen. Substantial improvement in affinity to HA occurred along mutationally preferred paths in sequence space and was thus strongly facilitated by the underlying local codon biases.
    Frontiers in Immunology 01/2014; 5:170.
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    ABSTRACT: Emergence of drug-resistant strains of the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and the ineffectiveness of BCG in curtailing Mtb infection makes vaccine development for tuberculosis an important objective. Identifying immunogenic CD8+ T cell peptide epitopes is necessary for peptide-based vaccine strategies. We present a three-tiered strategy for identifying and validating immunogenic peptides: first, identify peptides that form stable complexes with class I MHC molecules; second, determine whether cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) raised against the whole protein antigen recognize and lyse target cells pulsed with peptides that passed step 1; third, determine whether peptides that passed step 2, when administered in vivo as a vaccine in HLA-A2 transgenic mice, elicit CTLs that lyse target cells expressing the whole protein antigen. Our innovative approach uses dendritic cells transfected with Mtb antigen-encoding mRNA to drive antigen expression. Using this strategy, we have identified five novel peptide epitopes from the Mtb proteins Apa, Mtb8.4 and Mtb19.
    Scientific Reports 01/2014; 4:4632. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Establishment of humoral immunity against pathogens is dependent on events that occur in the germinal center and the subsequent induction of high-affinity neutralizing antibodies. Quantitative assays that allow monitoring of affinity maturation and duration of antibody responses can provide useful information regarding the efficacy of vaccines and adjuvants. Using an anthrax protective antigen (rPA) and alum model antigen/adjuvant system, we describe a methodology for monitoring antigen-specific serum antibody concentration and avidity by surface plasmon resonance during primary and secondary immune responses. Our analyses showed that following a priming dose in mice, rPA-specific antibody concentration and avidity increases over time and reaches a maximal response in about six weeks, but gradually declines in the absence of antigenic boost. Germinal center reactions were observed early with maximal development achieved during the primary response, which coincided with peak antibody avidity responses to primary immunization. Boosting with antigen resulted in a rapid increase in rPA-specific antibody concentration and five-fold increase in avidity, which was not dependent on sustained GC development. The described methodology couples surface plasmon resonance-based plasma avidity measurements with germinal center analysis and provides a novel way to monitor humoral responses that can play a role in facilitating vaccine and adjuvant development.
    Journal of immunological methods 12/2013; · 2.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Current HIV-1 vaccines elicit strain-specific neutralizing antibodies. Broadly neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs) are not induced by current vaccines, but are found in plasma in ∼20% of HIV-1-infected individuals after several years of infection. One strategy for induction of unfavored antibody responses is to produce homogeneous immunogens that selectively express BnAb epitopes but minimally express dominant strain-specific epitopes. Here we report that synthetic, homogeneously glycosylated peptides that bind avidly to variable loop 1/2 (V1V2) BnAbs PG9 and CH01 bind minimally to strain-specific neutralizing V2 antibodies that are targeted to the same envelope polypeptide site. Both oligomannose derivatization and conformational stabilization by disulfide-linked dimer formation of synthetic V1V2 peptides were required for strong binding of V1V2 BnAbs. An HIV-1 vaccine should target BnAb unmutated common ancestor (UCA) B-cell receptors of naïve B cells, but to date no HIV-1 envelope constructs have been found that bind to the UCA of V1V2 BnAb PG9. We demonstrate herein that V1V2 glycopeptide dimers bearing Man5GlcNAc2 glycan units bind with apparent nanomolar affinities to UCAs of V1V2 BnAbs PG9 and CH01 and with micromolar affinity to the UCA of a V2 strain-specific antibody. The higher-affinity binding of these V1V2 glycopeptides to BnAbs and their UCAs renders these glycopeptide constructs particularly attractive immunogens for targeting subdominant HIV-1 envelope V1V2-neutralizing antibody-producing B cells.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The RAG1/RAG2 endonuclease (RAG) initiates the V(D)J recombination reaction that assembles immunoglobulin heavy (IgH) and light (IgL) chain variable region exons from germline gene segments to generate primary antibody repertoires. IgH V(D)J assembly occurs in progenitor (pro-) B cells followed by that of IgL in precursor (pre-) B cells. Expression of IgH μ and IgL (Igκ or Igλ) chains generates IgM, which is expressed on immature B cells as the B-cell antigen-binding receptor (BCR). Rag expression can continue in immature B cells, allowing continued Igκ V(D)J recombination that replaces the initial VκJκ exon with one that generates a new specificity. This 'receptor editing' process, which can also lead to Igλ V(D)J recombination and expression, provides a mechanism whereby antigen encounter at the Rag-expressing immature B-cell stage helps shape pre-immune BCR repertoires. As the major site of postnatal B-cell development, the bone marrow is the principal location of primary immunoglobulin repertoire diversification in mice. Here we report that early B-cell development also occurs within the mouse intestinal lamina propria (LP), where the associated V(D)J recombination/receptor editing processes modulate primary LP immunoglobulin repertoires. At weanling age in normally housed mice, the LP contains a population of Rag-expressing B-lineage cells that harbour intermediates indicative of ongoing V(D)J recombination and which contain cells with pro-B, pre-B and editing phenotypes. Consistent with LP-specific receptor editing, Rag-expressing LP B-lineage cells have similar VH repertoires, but significantly different Vκ repertoires, compared to those of Rag2-expressing bone marrow counterparts. Moreover, colonization of germ-free mice leads to an increased ratio of Igλ-expressing versus Igκ-expressing B cells specifically in the LP. We conclude that B-cell development occurs in the intestinal mucosa, where it is regulated by extracellular signals from commensal microbes that influence gut immunoglobulin repertoires.
    Nature 08/2013; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: T-cell receptor diversity correlates with immune competency and is of particular interest in patients undergoing immune reconstitution. Spectratyping generates data about T-cell receptor CDR3 length distribution for each BV gene but is technically complex. Flow cytometry can also be used to generate data about T-cell receptor BV gene usage, but its utility has not been compared to or tested in combination with spectratyping. Using flow cytometry and spectratype data, we have defined a divergence metric that quantifies the deviation from normal of T-cell receptor repertoire. We have shown that the sample size is a sensitive parameter in the predicted flow divergence values, but not in the spectratype divergence values. We have derived two ways to correct for the measurement bias using mathematical and statistical approaches and have predicted a lower bound in the number of lymphocytes needed when using the divergence as a substitute for diversity. Using both flow cytometry and spectratyping of T-cells, we have defined the divergence measure as an indirect measure of T-cell receptor diversity. We have shown the dependence of the divergence measure on the sample size before it can be used to make predictions regarding the diversity of the T-cell receptor repertoire.
    BMC Immunology 08/2013; 14(1):35. · 2.61 Impact Factor
  • Duane Wesemann, Thomas B. Kepler
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    ABSTRACT: Progenitor (pro-) and precursor (pre-) B cells express Rag1 and Rag2, which mediate assembly of V (D) and J gene segments to form heavy and light chain variable region exons of immunoglobulin (Ig) genes, which are expressed together in developing B lineage cells as IgM. Immature B cells harboring self-reactive IgM undergo receptor editing, where light chain variable region exon reassembly continues until innocuous specificities are made. Early B cell development is therefore coupled to an antigen-mediated tolerance checkpoint that helps shape the pre-immune Ig repertoire. As the primary site of early B cell development, the bone marrow antigenic environment is the principal driver of receptor editing. However, whether or not peripheral environments, such as the gut mucosa, can harbor early B cell development and influence early Ig repertoire is unclear. Here we show that early B lineage development takes place within the intestinal mucosa. Rag-expressing pro-B, pre-B and immature editing B cells are found in the intestinal lamina propria (LP) with peak levels at weanling age and increase after microfloral colonization of germ-free mice. We also find differences in light chain V gene segment usage in Rag2+ LP cells versus Rag2+ BM cells. Our results suggest that early B cell development in the intestinal mucosa is a regulated process that may influence the pre-immune Ig repertoire.
    2013 Clinical Immunology Society Annual Meeting; 04/2013
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    ABSTRACT: Current human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) vaccines elicit strain-specific neutralizing antibodies. However, cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies arise in approximately 20% of HIV-1-infected individuals, and details of their generation could provide a blueprint for effective vaccination. Here we report the isolation, evolution and structure of a broadly neutralizing antibody from an African donor followed from the time of infection. The mature antibody, CH103, neutralized approximately 55% of HIV-1 isolates, and its co-crystal structure with the HIV-1 envelope protein gp120 revealed a new loop-based mechanism of CD4-binding-site recognition. Virus and antibody gene sequencing revealed concomitant virus evolution and antibody maturation. Notably, the unmutated common ancestor of the CH103 lineage avidly bound the transmitted/founder HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein, and evolution of antibody neutralization breadth was preceded by extensive viral diversification in and near the CH103 epitope. These data determine the viral and antibody evolution leading to induction of a lineage of HIV-1 broadly neutralizing antibodies, and provide insights into strategies to elicit similar antibodies by vaccination.
    Nature 04/2013; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Many human monoclonal antibodies that neutralize multiple clades of HIV-1 are polyreactive and bind avidly to mammalian autoantigens. Indeed, the generation of neutralizing antibodies to the 2F5 and 4E10 epitopes of HIV-1 gp41 in man may be proscribed by immune tolerance because mice expressing the V(H) and V(L) regions of 2F5 have a block in B cell development that is characteristic of central tolerance. This developmental blockade implies the presence of tolerizing autoantigens that are mimicked by the membrane-proximal external region of HIV-1 gp41. We identify human kynureninase (KYNU) and splicing factor 3b subunit 3 (SF3B3) as the primary conserved, vertebrate self-antigens recognized by the 2F5 and 4E10 antibodies, respectively. 2F5 binds the H4 domain of KYNU which contains the complete 2F5 linear epitope (ELDKWA). 4E10 recognizes an epitope of SF3B3 that is strongly dependent on hydrophobic interactions. Opossums carry a rare KYNU H4 domain that abolishes 2F5 binding, but they retain the SF3B3 4E10 epitope. Immunization of opossums with HIV-1 gp140 induced extraordinary titers of serum antibody to the 2F5 ELDKWA epitope but little or nothing to the 4E10 determinant. Identification of structural motifs shared by vertebrates and HIV-1 provides direct evidence that immunological tolerance can impair humoral responses to HIV-1.
    Journal of Experimental Medicine 01/2013; · 13.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A long-standing paradigm in B cell immunology is that effective somatic hypermutation and affinity maturation require cycling between the dark zone and light zone of the germinal center. The cyclic re-entry hypothesis was first proposed based on considerations of the efficiency of affinity maturation using an ordinary differential equations model for B cell population dynamics. More recently, two-photon microscopy studies of B cell motility within lymph nodes in situ have revealed the complex migration patterns of B lymphocytes both in the preactivation follicle and post-activation germinal center. There is strong evidence that chemokines secreted by stromal cells and the regulation of cognate G-protein coupled receptors by these chemokines are necessary for the observed spatial cell distributions. For example, the distribution of B cells within the light and dark zones of the germinal center appears to be determined by the reciprocal interaction between the level of the CXCR4 and CXCR5 receptors and the spatial distribution of their respective chemokines CXCL12 and CXCL13. Computer simulations of individual-based models have been used to study the complex biophysical and mechanistic processes at the individual cell level, but such simulations can be challenging to parameterize and analyze. In contrast, ordinary differential equations are more tractable, but traditional compartment model formalizations ignore the spatial chemokine distribution that drives B cell redistribution. Motivated by the desire to understand the motility patterns observed in an individual-based simulation of B cell migration in the lymph node, we propose and analyze the dynamics of an ordinary differential equation model incorporating explicit chemokine spatial distributions. While there is experimental evidence that B cell migration patterns in the germinal center are driven by extrinsically regulated differentiation programs, the model shows, perhaps surprisingly, that feedback from receptor down-regulation induced by external chemokine fields can give rise to spontaneous interzonal and intrazonal oscillations in the absence of any extrinsic regulation. While the extent to which such simple feedback mechanisms contributes to B cell migration patterns in the germinal center is unknown, the model provides an alternative hypothesis for how complex B cell migration patterns might arise from very simple mechanisms.
    Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 01/2013; · 2.02 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

4k Citations
891.84 Total Impact Points


  • 2014
    • University of Massachusetts Boston
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2007–2014
    • Boston University
      • • Department of Microbiology
      • • Department of Mathematics and Statistics
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2005–2013
    • Duke University
      • • Department of Biology
      • • Department of Statistical Science
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
    • Northwestern University
      Evanston, Illinois, United States
  • 2002–2013
    • Duke University Medical Center
      • • Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Center for Computational Immunology
      • • Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy
      • • Department of Immunology
      Durham, NC, United States
    • The Rockefeller University
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2012
    • Beverly Hospital, Boston MA
      Beverly, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2011–2012
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States
    • University of Louisiana at Lafayette
      • Department of Mathematics
      Lafayette, LA, United States
  • 2008
    • George Washington University
      • Department of Biological Sciences
      Washington, D. C., DC, United States
  • 1993–2002
    • Santa Fe Institute
      Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States
  • 2001
    • University of New Mexico
      • Department of Computer Science
      Albuquerque, NM, United States
    • Los Alamos National Laboratory
      • Theoretical Biology and Biophysics Group
      Los Alamos, NM, United States
  • 1993–2001
    • North Carolina State University
      • Department of Statistics
      Raleigh, NC, United States
  • 1992–1993
    • Brandeis University
      • • Department of Biology
      • • Department of Chemistry
      Waltham, MA, United States