Welcome to the R. Powell Laboratory

The overarching goals of our research program are to understand the human milk immune response to infection and vaccination, and ultimately, to design maternal vaccines aimed to enhance this response.


We currently have several active projects aimed to fill knowledge gaps about human milk immunology and the milk immune response to infectious disease and vaccination:

1) Fc-mediated antibody function against HIV by relevant primary cells, with particular focus on  antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP) by human milk leukocytes and its role in minimizing mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV via breastfeeding

2) Collaborative work with the Microbiology department to analyze the human milk immune response to seasonal influenza vaccination

3) Comprehensive assessment of SARS-CoV-2-reactive antibodies in human milk to determine their potential as a COVID-19 therapeutic and as a means to prevent infection of breastfed babies

4) Verification and assessment of an entero-mammary immunological link in Rhesus Macaques in order to provide critical data for designing maternal vaccines to eliminate mother-to-child-transmission of HIV via breastfeeding


All projects

can be further read about here