You are here

Dr. Shelly Krebs, Chief of B Cell Biology

Dr. Shelly Krebs’ antibody research usually focuses on learning how HIV-positive individuals naturally develop potent antibody responses to the virus and using those insights to inform HIV vaccination strategies. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, her lab section has pivoted to studying the SARS-CoV-2 virus to develop antibody products to help detect, prevent and treat the novel coronavirus.

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have a long history in the treatment of chronic diseases and are rapidly becoming an important countermeasure for the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Individuals who recovered from COVID-19 likely mounted an immune response that helped them recover. By isolating mAbs from these individuals, the Krebs lab is trying to identify key components of their immune response that can be used to help others who don’t mount a protective response to defeat the virus.

Under leadership from WRAIR’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch (EIDB), the Krebs lab is working on ways to use mAbs to help

  • prevent COVID infection in the absence of a vaccine
  • diagnose the disease as part of immunoassay development, and
  • develop treatment options that could blunt disease severity.

Dr. Krebs received her Ph.D. from Dartmouth Medical School in 2008 in the department of Microbiology and Immunology. She transitioned to studying HIV when she was awarded an Emerging Infectious Disease Postdoctoral Fellowship from the CDC and APHL, focusing on low-cost diagnostics and the development of a whole-inactivated HIV vaccine. She joined HJF and MHRP in 2012 to study the development of HIV-specific B cell responses and immune activation in HIV infection and vaccination.

Some of Dr. Krebs’ recent HIV work includes the evaluation of a broadly neutralizing antibody developed by the NIH Vaccine Research Center as a therapy in acutely in acutely infected individuals from MHRP’s RV254 cohort. In another recent study, Dr. Krebs and colleagues observed early events in the development of three neutralizing antibody lineages in an HIV-1-infected individual, insights which may help inform vaccine design. She has worked previously with WRAIR’s EIDB to characterize antibodies that cross-neutralize both dengue and Zika flaviviruses; findings were published earlier this year in Nature Medicine.

HJF has provided operational and scientific support for MHRP through a cooperative agreement since 1986. EIDB was spun off from MHRP in 2018 to address military relevant emerging infectious disease threats and added to the cooperative agreement between WRAIR and HJF.