Clinical Address:
1211 21st Avenue South, Medical Arts Building, Room / Suite 102A, Nashville, TN , TN 37212
Office Address:
1161 21st Avenue South, MCN, Room / Suite A2200 , Nashville, TN , TN 37232-2582

Associate Professor of Medicine


Clinical Interest

 

Dr. Kalams was the first to demonstrate the persistence of HIVï·“1 specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones in vivo during chronic HIV infection, and has received NIH R01-funding to 1) Evaluate why CTL responses decline with disease progression, 2) Assess the T-cell repertoire of developing and established immune responses, and 3) Determine whether the avidity of developing CTL responses influences viral set point. Other research interests include understanding the mechanisms of immune escape from CTL recognition (to evaluate the role HIV sequence variation plays in disease progression), and the evaluation of CTL responses of patients with long-term non-progressing HIV-1 infection (to evaluate whether patients without disease progression have unique or more robust immune responses).

Dr. Kalams has mentored several fellows that have gone on to receive independent NIH funding and 2 of these fellows are currently on staff at the Partners AIDS Research Center/Massachusetts General Hospital. Of his current trainees, Dr. Dirk Meyer-Olson has had a recent manuscript accepted for publication in the Journal of Immunology. Dr. Meyer-Olson has also received independent funding to pursue research at Hanover Medical School in Germany. Another current trainee, Dr. Atif Siddique, is evaluating immune responses after therapeutic vaccination in ACTG trial a5058s. Dr. Siddique will be joining Dr. Kalams as a research instructor in Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

In addition to HIV-related research, Dr. Kalams has received funding for an R01 grant and a program project, both in collaboration with Dr. Christopher Walker (Ohio State University), to evaluate the evolution of immune responses in HCV-infected chimpanzees. These studies are designed to evaluate the role of the immune system in the control of this chronic viral infection.

Dr. Kalams was recently awarded a 5-year Elizabeth Glaser Scientist Award to evaluate HIV-specific immune responses in infected mother-child pairs. This award will specifically be used to complete a research project at GHESKIO in Haiti. Dr. Kalams has a research technologist who will spend the majority of her time at GHESKIO organizing this project and training research technologists and fellows at GHESKIO to perform state of the art immunology assays to evaluate HIV-specific immune responses.

Our future efforts in the laboratory will be to also evaluate the correlates of protective immunity for other intracellular .pathogens such as mycobacterium tuberculosis. In collaboration with Dr. Douglas Kernodle and Dr. Tim Blackwell, Dr. Kalams has submitted a program project grant designed to understand the correlates of immune protection in mice vaccinated with an attenuated BCG construct. This attenuated vaccine construct has great potential as a vector for several intracellular pathogens known to cause human disease, and the evaluation of immune responses in this model holds great potential for unlocking the mechanisms of immune control of viral and intracellular bacterial infections. Post-doctoral fellows or graduate students interested in participating in any of these described research projects should feel free to contact Dr. Kalams via email at Spyros.a.Kalams@Vanderbilt.edu, or by phone at (615) 322-5977.

Research Keywords
Cellular immune responses directed against viral and bacterial pathogens
Research Description
Dr. Kalams joined the Infectious Disease staff at Vanderbilt University in 2002. Dr. Kalams is currently the director of viral immunology studies in the Vanderbilt Infectious Diseases Unit and is the Principal Investigator of the Vanderbilt HIV Vaccine Trials Unit. He is also the Director of the Laboratory Sciences Core of the Tennessee Center For AIDS Research. His laboratory investigates new strategies to quantitate HIV-specific cytotoxic T cell (CTL) and helper responses, which will be important for the evaluation of vaccines entering clinical trials. Dr. Kalams was the first to demonstrate the persistence of HIV-1 specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) clones in vivo during chronic HIV infection, and has received NIH R01-funding to 1) Evaluate why CTL responses decline with disease progression, 2) Assess the T-cell repertoire of developing and established immune responses, and 3) Determine whether the avidity of developing CTL responses influences viral set point. Other research interests include understanding the mechanisms of immune escape from CTL recognition (to evaluate the role HIV sequence variation plays in disease progression), and the evaluation of CTL responses of patients with long-term non-progressing HIV-1 infection (to evaluate whether patients without disease progression have unique or more robust immune responses). Current active projects include the development of mass cytometry as a platform for evaluation of T cell phenotype and function, and molecular analysis of pathogen-specific T cells. We have developed assays to sort individual T cells, followed by identification of their T cell receptor alpha beta chain usage as well as their transcriptional profile. This allows an in depth evaluation of T cell responses after either natural infection or vaccination.

Education

M.D. - U of Connecticut Med School
B.A. - Harvard College, 1979 - 1983
Honors and Awards