Meet the Team

Rebecca L.R. Powell, PhD performed her¬†doctoral research at the New York University School of Medicine, focused on the genomic analysis of HIV in the epicenter of the HIV pandemic, West-Central Africa. While testing for HIV and collecting blood samples from study participants in Cameroon, she developed a low-cost method to rapidly detect HIV superinfection. This assay enabled the discovery that among this normal-risk population, superinfection was as common as primary infection, facilitating virus recombination and strongly impacting the genetic diversity of HIV in this region. Her further study of the impact of HIV superinfection on the host immune response led to the finding that these infections tended to broaden the HIV-specific neutralizing antibody response, suggesting inclusion of various HIV subtypes in a vaccine may do the same. Dr. Powell’s early post-doctoral research was performed at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Design and Development Lab, where she was part of the Candidate Evaluation team. Her work at IAVI involved the design and testing of replicating viral vector vaccines displaying HIV Envelope. She developed various antibody-based assays that allowed detailed evaluation of candidate vaccines in small and large animal studies, identifying several Vesicular Stomatitis Virus candidate vaccines in particular as safe and highly immunogenic, which are currently in clinical trials. Dr. Powell is also a certified lactation counselor, and lives in Brooklyn with her partner and 3 children.

Alisa Fox