Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., is a Professor of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology. Her research explains, at the molecular level, how and why viruses are pathogenic and provides the roadmap for medical defense. Her team has solved the structures of the Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, Bundibugyo and Lassa virus glycoproteins, explained how they remodel these structures as they drive themselves into cells, how their proteins suppress immune function and where human antibodies can defeat these viruses.
Prof. Saphire is currently leading a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-supported consortium to evaluate antibody therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2 to prevent and treat COVID-19. This consortium, CoVIC (covic.lji.org) analyzes the world’s leading therapeutic candidates side-by-side, and uses LJI’s powerful pair of Titan Krios microscopes for high-resolution analysis of the antibody interactions.
She was also the galvanizing force behind the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium and is directing this NIAID-supported organization. This consortium, Center of Excellence in Translational Research, unites 44 previously competing academic, industrial and government labs across five continents to understand and provide antibody therapeutics against Ebola, Marburg, Lassa and other viruses. A recent discovery from Instructor Kathryn Hastie revealed why neutralizing antibodies had been so difficult to elicit against Lassa virus, and provided not only the templates for the needed vaccine, but the molecule itself: a Lassa surface glycoprotein engineered to remain in the right conformation to inspire the needed antibody response. This molecule is the basis for international vaccine efforts against Lassa. Other work in their lab reveals how these and other viruses replicate and assemble using a variety of biophysical, biochemical, and immunological methods.
Dr. Saphire’s work has been recognized at the White House with the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, with young investigator awards from the International Congress of Antiviral Research, the American Society for Microbiology, and the MRC Centre for Virus Research in the United Kingdom. She has been awarded a Fulbright Global Scholar fellowship from the United States Department of State and a Mercator Fellowship from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, to develop international collaborations using cryoelectron microscopy to further global health.
Our postdocs @ljiresearch are a talented team and I’m honored to work with you. I enjoyed talking this p.m. to Jermaine from Vijay’s lab, Estefania & Mehdi from Matthias’s. Thanks HR for the ice cream and to all our LJI postdocs for your insights and findings that open new doors.
RT @Dani6020: I'm beyond excited having received the @ascina Junior PI award. @OSTAustria_DC Thank you! https://t.co/WkwKFNVrVs
RT @ljiresearch: Congratulations to Daniela Weiskopf (@Dani6020) winner of the 2021 @ascina Junior PI award! Weiskopf is a leader in T cell…
RT @Sri_Baqri: #Loveviruses? Amanda Monahan of @cellhostmicrobe and I are excited about our March 2022 @CellSymposia on #Viruses in #Health…
For critical samples going internationally during COVID, we have used World Courier. It’s very expensive but successful when you have a high-value shipment.
RT @joostsnijder: We're looking for a postdoc! someone with cryoEM SPA experience to come strengthen our team (2yrs fully funded). Focus on…
If #zoom screenshare does not show your #keynote slides advancing, instead of screen sharing keynote, try screensharing the desktop. Be sure to click the boxes at bottom about audio and video.
Studying active #Tcell responses against #tuberculosis instead of memory shows what is happening now in ppl & gives insight into active v. latent disease. Important bcs the Tb pathogen is hard to detect, yet kills 1.4 million ppl/yr @ljiresearch jimmunol.org/content/early/…
On everyone’s mind: how long will immunity last against #SARS-CoV-2? One yr after mild disease, most retain serum #antibody & memory #Tcell activity. Large collab. study @UniofAdelaide @ljiresearch @SetteLab @Dani6020 europepmc.org/article/ppr/pp…
RT @Alba_Grifoni: 1/7 People keep asking what is the role of T cells against variants, in our recent study cell.com/cell-reports-m… on @Cel…
The varied and expansive world of viruses, starkly simple to systems-complex. A medical menace, but by following what viruses choose to target or evade, we have learned much about fundamental cell biology and immunology. #LoveVirology nature.com/articles/d4158…
RT @dr_bsquared: We’re recruiting! The Brown lab has a Postdoc opening to investigate the molecular and structural basis for protein assemb…
From the lab
Erica Ollman Saphire brings together scientific competitors to find new antibody therapeutics for COVID-19.
Dr. Saphire will become La Jolla Institute’s fifth president when she formally begins her term on September 1, 2021
Awards & Honors
- Fulbright Global Scholar Award, 2019-2020
- Mercator Fellowship, DFG, Philipps Universitaet Marburg, 2018
- Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research Award, American Society for Microbiology, 2016
- Finalist, Classy Award for the Most Innovative Nonprofits and Social Enterprises of 2016 for VIC, 2016
- "Cool Woman", Girl Scouts San Diego, 2016
- William Prusoff Young Investigator Award, Int. Society for Antiviral Research, 2015
- Young Investigator Award, ASBMB, 2015
- Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2015
- Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology, 2014
- Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, 2009
- Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, 2009-2015
- ICAAC Young Investigator Award, American Society for Microbiology, 2006
- Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, 2003-2008
- New Initiatives Award in Global Infectious Disease, Ellison Medical Foundation, 2003
- Surhain Sidhu Award, 2003