Galit Alter, PhD

Lab Info:

Principal Investigator: Galit Alter, PhD

Lab Staff: 8 post-docs, 3 staff scientists, 1 PhD students, 1 graduate student, 1 research specialist, 1 technologist, 8 technicians, 1 project manager

Office/Location: 400TS 784

Phone: (857) 268-7003


Category: Group Leaders, Members

Galit Alter received her PhD in experimental medicine from McGill University, and is currently an Associate Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Over the past 8 years her research has focused on understanding the role of the innate immune response to chronic viral infections, including HIV and HCV, with a focus on defining the role of Natural Killer (NK) cells in antiviral control. Recently, these studies have shifted gears to begin to define the mechanism by which these innate immune effector cells may be harnessed through vaccination to gain more effective control over viral replication. To do this, her current research interests lie in defining the role of innate immune recruiting antibodies in providing protection from infection. Specifically, she is working towards defining the pathways that result in the targeted production of “protective” antibody glycans to enhance the production of antibodies that can potently block infections.


Advancement in understanding how to manipulate the antibody glycan in a targeted manner through vaccination will also lead to the generation of vaccines with broader applications by extending to the improvement of therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of malignancies and autoimmune diseases as well. This knowledge will provide insights into natural antibody glycovariation, and lead to the development of novel approaches to strategically tailor vaccines to induce innate immune cell-recruiting antibodies, with the hope that these findings will ultimately revolutionize the application of vaccines to treat and prevent a remarkably larger range of diseases.


Noteworthy Publications

1. Xia Z, Liu Q, Berger CT, Keenan BT, Kaliszewska A, Cheney PC, Srivastava GP, Castillo IW, De Jager PL, Alter G. A 17q12 Allele is associated with altered NK cell subsets and function. J Immunol. Epub. 2012 Feb 15


2. Pelak K, Need AC, Fellay J, Shianna KV, Feng S, Urban TJ, Ge D, De Luca A, Martinez-Picado J, Wolinsky SM, Martinson JJ, Jamieson BD, Bream JH, Martin MP, Borrow P, Letvin NL, McMichael AJ, Haynes BF, Telenti A, Carrington M, Goldstein DB, Alter G; on behalf of NIAID Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI). Copy Number Variation of KIR Genes Influences HIV-1 Control.PLoS Biol. 2011 Nov;9(11):e1001208. Epub 2011 Nov 29.


3. Sips M, Sciaranghella G, Diefenbach T, Dugast AS, Berger CT, Liu Q, Kwon D, Ghebremichael M, Estes JD, Carrington M, Martin JN, Deeks SG, Hunt PW, Alter G. Altered distribution of mucosal NK cells during HIV infection. Mucosal Immunol. 2011 Oct 12. doi: 10.1038/mi.2011.40.


4. Alter G, Heckerman D, Schneidewind A, Fadda L, Kadie CM, Carlson JM, Oniangue-Ndza C, Martin M, Li B, Khakoo SI, Carrington M, Allen TM, Altfeld M. HIV-1 adaptation to NK-cell-mediated immune pressure. Nature. 2011 Aug 3;476(7358):96-100. doi: 10.1038/nature10237.


5. Luteijn R, Sciaranghella G, van Lunzen J, Nolting A, Dugast AS, Ghebremichael MS, Altfeld M, Alter G.Early viral replication in lymphnodes provides HIV with a means by which to escape NK cell mediated control . European Journal of Immunology, 2011 Jun 1.


6. Dugast AS, Tonelli A, Berger CT, Ackerman ME, Sciaranghella G, Liu Q, Sips M, Toth I, Piechocka-Trocha A, Ghebremichael M, Alter G. Decreased Fc receptor expression on innate immune cells is associated with impaired antibody-mediated cellular phagocytic activity in chronically HIV-1 infected individuals. Virology. 2011 Jul 5;415(2):160-7. Epub 2011 May 12.



1. Ackerman ME, Dugast AS, Alter G. Emerging concepts on the role of innate immunity in the prevention and control of HIV infection. Annu Rev Med. 2012;63:113-30. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


2. Berger CT, Alter G. Natural Killer cells in spontaneous control of HIV infection. CurrOpin HIV AIDS. 2011 May;6(3):208-13. Review.


3. Alter G, Altfeld M. Mutiny or scrutiny: NK cell modulation of DC function in HIV-1 infection. Trends Immunol. 2011 May;32(5):219-24. Epub 2011 Mar 14.


4. Fadda L and Alter G. KIR/HLA: Genetic Clues for a Role of NK cells in the Control of HIV. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012; 780:27-36.


Laboratory Staff


Not pictured

Todd Suscovich, PhD, Staff Scientist

Giuseppe Lofano, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Aniruddh Sarkar, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

Viraj Kulkarni, PhD, Research Speacialist

Caitlyn Linde, Research Specialist

Thomas Broge, Technologist

Marina Krykbaeva, Technician

Marcus Karim, Technician

Jonathan Crain, Technician

Avery Normandin,  Research Technician

Rasmus Offersen, Research Collaborator

Christine Masih, Staff Assistant

Maddy Jennewein, Graduate Student