Ted Ross, Ph.D.
Program Director
Vaccines & Viral Immunity


One of the country’s foremost influenza researchers, Ted Ross, Ph.D., is a program director and a principal investigator at the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida (VGTI Florida®). Dr. Ross explores new vaccine technologies intended to protect against all strains of seasonal influenza – an endeavor that could potentially eliminate the need for seasonal flu shots.

Today’s flu vaccines are a mixture of inactive influenza viruses. Dr. Ross, however, is taking a novel approach by examining the use of a synthetic vaccine created from genetic sequences of many different flu viruses.  Dr. Ross previously used this method to produce a vaccine against the H5N1 virus, commonly known as the bird flu. The vaccine, well-tolerated in pre-clinical trials, successfully protects against known strains of bird flu.  Dr. Ross and his VGTI Florida colleagues are applying similar strategies to fight other serious viruses such as West Nile Virus, Dengue and HIV Type 1 (HIV-1).  
Prior to joining VGTI Florida, Dr. Ross was an Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where he served in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics department and was a full member of the Center for Vaccine Research. Before that, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at East Carolina University, School of Medicine in North Carolina.  

Developing Universal Flu Vaccine in Partnership - Dr Ted M. Ross - World Vaccine Congress from VGTI Florida on Vimeo.
Published on May 9, 2013 - World Vaccine Congress & Expo 2013
Dr. Ted M. Ross, Director at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida
gives his presentation on 'Developing Universal Flu Vaccine in Partnership'.

Dr. Ross has co-authored numerous scientific articles published in journals such as Nature Immunology, The Journal of Virology, Journal of Infectious Disease, Vaccine, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the American Society for Virology, American Society of Microbiology, Sigma Xi, International Society of Vaccines, and others. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Arkansas in Zoology and Microbiology, respectively. Dr. Ross earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Microbiology & Immunology. Additionally, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in HIV Research at Duke University and a Senior Research Associate in HIV Vaccine Research at Emory University.
Laboratory of Dr. Ted M. Ross  
The goals of the research program of Dr. Ted Ross are two-fold: 
  1. To understand the mechanisms and development of effective vaccines for influenza, HIV-1 and emerging disease agents, such as Rift Valley Fever virus, West Nile virus and Dengue virus.
  2. To use our knowledge of virus-host interactions to disease pathogenesis and transmission.
Three different areas of research are currently being pursued: 
  1. Improve the efficacy of vaccines for infectious diseases, including the development novel vaccine platforms, including virus-like particles (VLPs) to elicit protective immunity.
  2. Generate computationally optimized antigens to elicit broadly-reactive, universal vaccine responses against all isolates of influenza, but also HIV and Dengue.
  3. Understand host-pathogen interactions in humans and determine gene signatures that correlate with vaccine induced protective immune responses.
Project 1 and 2.  Computationally Optimized Broadly Reactive Antigens (COBRA) for Universal Influenza Vaccine.
Figure 1

Fig. 1. COBRA HA design. Schematic to describe how the COBRA HA molecule was designed. The phylogenetic tree was inferred from hemagglutinin amino acid sequences using the maximum likelihood method and clade/sub-clade groupings were identified. Primary consensus sequences were generated for each outbreak group. Secondary consensus sequences were then generated for each subclade using the primary sequences as input. The secondary consensus sequences were then aligned and the resulting consensus, designated COBRA, was generated. This vaccine elicited antibodies that recognized all strains of H5N1 tested.

Project 3.  Sequential Infection of H1N1 influenza strains elicits a B cell memory response that produces antibodies that neutralize the pandemic H1N1 strains, prevents infection, and reduces transmission to other non-vaccinated ferrets.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Schematic of the infection schedule.  (Top) Ferrets were infected intranasally (10e+6 pfu/ml) with one of 6 seasonal H1N1 influenza viruses.  Ferrets were bled at day 14, 28, 42, 56, and 84 post-infection.  At day 84, all ferrets were infected with novel H1N1 influenza virus, A/CA/07/09 (10e+6pfu/ml) and observed for two weeks for clinical signs of infection.  (Bottom) Ferrets were infected with three different seasonal H1N1 strains at three month intervals.  One set of three viruses represented seasonal H1N1 viruses from 1934-1957 (historical) and the second set represented viruses from 1991-2007 (modern).  Ferrets were bled at the same time intervals following each infection as described for individually infected ferrets.  At day 252, ferrets were infected with novel H1N1 as described for individually infected ferrets.  All sequentially infected ferrets elicited antibodies that recognized and neutralized the novel pandemic H1N1 strain, A/California/07/2009.  

Contact Information
Ted M. Ross, Ph.D.
Program Director of Influenza and Vaccine Development and Principal Investigator
Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute
9801 SW Discovery Way
Port St. Lucie, FL 34987
Tel: (772) 345-5693
Fax: (772) 345-0625

Lab Members
Tel: (772) 345-5699
Fax: (772) 345-0625
Chalise Bloom - Research Assistant
Donald Carter - Sr. Research Associate
Corey Crevar - Research Associate
Dominic Marino - Research Assistant
Christopher Darby - Research Assistant


Select Publications (from a total of 102)
Refereed Articles 
  1. Crevar CJ, Giles BM, Pierce BR, Ross TM.  Second Generation H5N1 COBRA HA Vaccines Elicit Antibodies in Mice and Ferrets that Neutralize H5N1 Viruses from Multiple Clades. 2012. Clin Vacc Immunol. Submitted. 
  2. Eugene HS, Pierce BP, Craigo JK, Ross TM.  A consensus Group M trimerized envelope elicits protective immune responses in non-human primates against heterologous SHIVSF162p4 infection. 2012. BMC Inf Dis.  In Press.
  3. León AJ, Banner D, Xu L, Ran L, Peng Z, Yi K, Chen C, Xu F, Huang J, Zhen Z, Lin Z, Huang SHS, Fang Y, Kelvin AA, Ross TM, Frooqui A, Kelvin DJ. Sequencing, annotation and characterization of the influenza ferret infectome.  2013. J. Virol. 87:1957-66.
  4. Carter DM, Bloom CE, Nascimento EJ, Marques ETA, Craigo JK, Cherry JL, Lipman DJ, Ross TM. Sequential Ferret H1N1 influenza infection in ferrets elicits neutralizing antibodies to emerging H1N1 isolates.  2013.  J Virol. 87(2). 1400-1410. 
  5. Verma N, Dimitrova M, Munjal A, Fontana J, Crevar CJ, Carter DM, Ross TM, Khurana S, Golding H.  Oligomeric Recombinant H5 HA1 Vaccine Produced in Bacteria Protects Ferrets from Homologous and Heterologous Wild-Type H5N1 Influenza Challenge and Controls Viral Loads Better than Subunit H5N1 Vaccine by Eliciting High-Affinity Antibodies. 2012. J. Virol. 86:12283-93. 
  6. Verma N, Dimitrova M, Carter DM, Crevar CJ, Ross TM, Golding H, Khurana S.  H1N1pdm09 infections in young and old: Evidence of higher antibody diversity and avidity for HA1 in elderly compared with young adults and children. 2012. J. Virol.  86:5515-22.
  7. McBurney SP, Landucci G, Forthal DN, Ross TM.  Protection against heterologous vaginal SHIV SF162p4 infection following vaccination with a polyvalent clade B virus-like particle vaccine.  2012.  AIDS Res. Human Retro.  28:863-72.
  8. Carter DM, Giles BM, Lu H-R, Crevar CJ, Bloom CE, Cherry JL, Lipham DJ, Ross TM.  Human Antisera Cross-Reactivity to Novel H1N1 influenza Correlates with Hemagglutination-Inhibition Activity Against Multiple Seasonal H1N1 Viruses.  2012.  PLoS One. 7:e39435.
  9. Giles BM, Crevar CJ, Carter DM, Bissel SM, Schultz-Cherry S, Khurana S, Golding H, Wiley CA, and Ross TM.  Computationally-Optimized Hemagglutinin Expressed on a Virus-like Particle Vaccine Elicits Broadly-Reactive Antibodies that Protect Non-human Primates from H5N1 clade 2 Influenza Infection.  2012.   J. Inf. Dis.  205:1562-70.
  10. Giles BM, Bissel SJ, DeAlmeida DR, Wiley CA, and Ross TM.  Antibody Breadth and protective efficacy is Increased by Vaccination with Computationally Optimized Hemagglutinin but not with Polyvalent Hemagglutinin base H5N1 VLP Vaccines. 2012. Clin Vacc Immunol.  19:128-39.
  11. Giles BM, Bissel SJ, DeAlmeida DR, Wiley CA, Tumpey TM, and Ross TM.  A 1918 influenza virus-like particle elicits long-lasting protective immune responses to 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus. 2011. J. Virol.  86:1500-1513.
  12. Schneider-Ohrum K, Giles BM, Weirback HK, Williams BL, and Ross TM. Adjuvants that stimulate TLR3 or NLPR3 pathways enhance the efficiency of influenza virus-like particle vaccines in aged mice.  2011. Vaccine.  29:9081-92.
  13. Giles BM and Ross TM.  Development of a computationally optimized broadly reactive (COBRA) hemagglutinin for elicitation of protective antibodies against multiple clades of H5N1.  2011.  Vaccine.  29:3043-54.
  14. Busse WW, Peter SP, Fenton M, Mitchell H, Bleecker ER, Castro M, Wenzel S, Erzurum SC, Fitzpatrick AM, Teague WG, Jarjour N, Moore WC, Sumino WC, Sumino K, Simeone S, Ratanamaneechat S, Penugonda M, Gaston B, Ross TM, Sigelman S, Schiepan JR, Zaccaro DJ, Crevar CJ, Carter DM, Togias A.  Vaccination of Patients with Mild and Severe Asthma with a 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus Vaccine.  2010.  J. Allergy Clin Immunol. 127:130-137. 
  15. Khurana S, Verma S, Verma N, Crevar CJ, Carter DM, Manischewitz J, King LR, Ross TM, Golding H.  Bacterially Expressed H5N1 Hemagglutinin HA1 Vaccine:  Structural Requirements for Trimer Formation, Hemagglutination, and Protection of Ferrets.  2011.  J. Virol.  85:1246-1256.
  16. Tang X-C, Lu H-R, Ross TM.  Hemagglutinin Displayed Baculovirus Protects Against Highly Pathogenic Influenza.  2010.  Vaccine.  28:6821-6831.
  17. Zimmer SM, Crevar CJ,  Carter DM, Stark JH, Giles BM, Zimmerman RK, Ostroff S, Lee BY, Burke DS, Ross TM.  Seroprevalence Following the Second Wave of Pandemic 2009 H1N1 Influenza in Pittsburgh, PA, USA.  2010. PLoS One.  5(7):e11601.
  18. Bhardwaj N, Heise MT, Ross TM.  DNA and alphavirus replicon vaccines encoding Gn elicit protective immune response against lethal Rift Valley Fever virus infection.  2009. PLoS NTD.  4(6):e725.
  19. Dunn MD, Rossi SL, Carter DM, Vogt MR, Mehlhop E, Diamond MS, Ross TM.  Fusion of the C3d derivative P28 to West Nile virus E or domain III augments protective antibody responses in mice.  2010.  Virology J.  7:95-106.
  20. Rowe T, León AJ, Crevar CJ, Carter DM, Xu L, Ran L, Fang Y, Cameron CM, Cameron MJ, Banner D, Ran R, Weirback HK, Wiley CA, Kelvin DJ, Ross TM.  Modeling host responses in ferrets during A/California/07/2009 influenza infection.  2009.  Virology.  401:257-65.

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