antibodies Bcells COVID Conference News Features immunology vaccines Infectious Diseases humoral immunity

Respiratory Viruses & Viral Immunity Insights with Dr. Galit Alter

In the below KSQA interview, Pathogens & Immunity Editor-in-Chief Michael Lederman catches up with Galit Alter about the research she will be presenting at the upcoming joint Keystone Symposia on Viral Immunity and Respiratory Viruses.

Dr. Alter will be speaking about her work studying how vaccines shape immune responses. Specific formulations, platforms and/or adjuvants can be selected to drive opsonophagocytic responses againstbacteria versus cytotoxic responses against viral infection, for example. This is accomplished in part by stimulating different TLRs that tell B-cells to produce different “flavors” of antibodies, with unique glycosylation patterns. Each pattern dictates different immunological functions from surrounding immune cells.

In particular, Dr. Alter will present her work studying antibody responses elicited by a novel RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) vaccine, by Jansen, and how those antibodies direct the effective clearance of the pathogen.

“My research really begins with this idea that antibodies do more than just bind and block pathogens. What we really care about is how antibodies act as molecular beacons that tell innate and adaptive immune cells to come and recognize something aberrant in a tissue, and then provide instructions on how those targets can be destroyed.”

Dr. Galit Alter


Listen to the full interview below to hear Dr. Alter’s insights on:

  • How post translational modifications of antibodies are decided, and their impact on function
  • How vaccines design and adjuvants can be leveraged to fine-tune not only T-cell responses, but also B-cell response
  • How different COVID-19 vaccines, and mixing and matching vaccine types, can produce new “flavors” of humoral immunity for enhanced protection
  • What can we do as immunologists to address public vaccine hesitancy

“The one thing that the pandemic has taught me more than anything else is how important biomedical literacy is, and how little we get in our daily lives. 

We might learn biology in high school, but do we really get biomedical literacy to help us understand relevant information like during the COVID-19 pandemic?”

Dr. Galit Alter


Join Dr. Alter and Dr. Lederman at the joint meetings on Viral Immunity: Basic Mechanisms and Therapeutic Applications and Respiratory Viruses: New Frontiers in Keystone in January, or virtually!

Listen to Dr. Alter's tips on career development:

In this supplemental interview, Dr. Alter shares insights on how she chose her career path, how to choose a thesis laboratory and other advice for trainees.

Dr. Lederman and Dr. Alter also reminisce about their long history as colleagues, friends and collaborators throughout their careers, leading to the following publications:

  • Lederman MM, Alter G, Daskalakis DC, Rodriguez B, Sieg SF, Hardy G, Cho M, Anthony Harding C, D, Weinberg A, Silverman DH, Douek DC, Margolis L, Goldstein DB, Carrington M, Goedert JG. Determinants of Protection among High Risk HIV Seronegative Persons – an overview.  J Infect Dis 2010 Nov 1;202 Suppl 3:S333-8

  • Veazey RS, Pilch-Cooper HA, Hope T, Alter G, Carias A, Sips M, Rodriguez B, Sieg SF, Reich A, Wilkinson P, Cameron MJ, Lederman MM. Prevention of SHIV transmission by topical IFN-β treatment.  Mucosal Immunology 2016 Feb 3. doi: 10.1038/mi.146.

Produced in collaboration with:


Hear more about the Viral Immunity meeting in this KSQA interview with meeting organizers Dr. Katherine Kedzierska & Dr. Paul Thomas:

Screen Shot 2021-12-14 at 4.34.08 PM


Shannon Weiman
Shannon Weiman earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, specializing in microbiology and immunology. Prior to joining the Keystone Symposia team, she worked as a freelance writer for leaders in academic, industry and government research, including Stanford University’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative, the University of Colorado’s Biofrontiers Program, UCSF, the FDA and the American Society for Microbiology.