David Peabody, PhD, and Bryce Chackerian, PhD
David Peabody, PhD, and Bryce Chackerian, PhD
Credit: STC.UNM

UNM Health Sciences Center researchers David Peabody, PhD, and Bryce Chackerian, PhD, have been chosen as 2017 STC.UNM Innovation Fellow Award winners.

The two professors in the UNM School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology have developed a wide range of tools that use bacteriophage virus-like particle (VLP) technology to develop new vaccines targeting infectious diseases and the self-antigens involved in chronic diseases.

Each year, a university faculty inventor(s) whose body of technologies have made a significant social and economic impact on society and the marketplace is recognized by STC.UNM through its Innovation Fellow Award. The annual event also recognizes UNM faculty, staff and students who have received U.S. patents, trademarks and registered copyrights within the past year. In addition to receiving the Innovation Fellow Award, Peabody and Chackerian will each receive an Innovation Award for five issued patents this year. 

Peabody earned his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Utah. As a postdoctoral fellow, he trained in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Berg (Nobel Prize, 1980) at Stanford University Medical School and came to UNM as an assistant professor in 1984. For most of his career, he’s studied the single-strand RNA viruses of bacteria (the RNA bacteriophages) as model systems to understand the role of RNA-protein interactions in gene regulation, but in the last 10 years turned his attention to adapting the VLPs of these phages as platforms for vaccine discovery and delivery. 

Chackerian earned his PhD from the University of Washington. As a postdoctoral fellow, he trained at the National Cancer Institute. In 2004, he joined UNM’s Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology. Chackerian is a member of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for Infectious Disease and Immunity. His laboratory is interested in vaccine development, particularly the use of virus particles as platforms for antigen display. Chackerian laboratory has developed vaccines in which virus-like particles VLPs are used as platforms to display practically any epitope in this highly immunogenic, multivalent format.  
“These two top UNM innovators have created a body of novel virus-like particle platform technologies to develop novel vaccines,” says STC CEO Lisa Kuuttila. “These VLP technologies have limitless potential to treat infectious and chronic diseases. Because of their work, an entirely new class of vaccines is now being developed for chronic diseases, the new treatment frontier.”

“We do many things well at the UNM Health Sciences Center, but I’m particularly proud of the work that David Peabody and Bryce Chackerian have been doing to develop vaccines that address a wide variety of human illnesses,” adds UNM Chancellor for Health Sciences Paul B. Roth, MD, who also is dean for the UNM School of Medicine. “Their research represents a significant step forward in medical technology. I congratulate them for this much-deserved award.”