Skip to main content

Herman Ford Staats, PhD

Professor of Pathology
Campus Mail: 346M, Davison Building, Trent Drive, Durham, NC 27710
Phone: (919) 684-8823
Email: herman.staats@duke.edu

Areas of Research Interest:

Our laboratory studies methods to induce and regulate antigen-specific immune responses at the mucosal surfaces of the host. The mucosal tissues and surfaces are often the first site of contact with infectious agents, a common location of life-threatening cancers and in constant contact with environmental antigens. A better understanding of factors that control the induction and regulation of mucosal immune responses may aid the development of vaccines and treatments for infectious agents such as HIV and agents of bioterrorism, cancers and environmental allergies.

Research interests in the Staats’ lab currently focus on:

1. DISCOVERING AND DEVELOPING NOVEL MUCOSAL ADJUVANTS AND THEIR MECHANISM OF ACTION

Adjuvants are substances commonly added to vaccines that enhance the induction of protective immune responses to the vaccine antigen. We have been successful at identifying substances with mucosal adjuvant activity such as the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 1α/β (IL-1α/β). IL-1α/β provides effective nasal adjuvant activity in mice, rabbits and non-human primates. Recent studies performed in collaboration with Dr. Soman Abraham have determined that the chemical mast cell activator compound 48/80 provides effective nasal adjuvant activity in mice and rabbits. Recent funding in the laboratory supported the discovery of small molecule mast cell activators with vaccine adjuvant activity.   Current funding in the laboratory supports the discovery of IL-1 receptor agonists (small molecules, peptides, aptamers)  that exhibit vaccine adjuvant activity.

2. OPTIMIZING NASAL IMMUNIZATION TO MAXIMIZE VACCINE IMMUNOGENICITY

Nasal immunization studies in mice have demonstrated the ability of nasal immunization to induce protective immune responses equal to those induced by a vaccine delivered with a needle. However, when nasal immunization is performed in rabbits or non-human primates, animals with a nasal cavity structure/anatomy that closely resembles the human nasal cavity, nasal immunization is often not as effective as immunization delivered with a needle. Studies in our lab have demonstrated that an increased nasal residence time in rabbits correlates with increased vaccine immunogenicity. Studies are being performed to develop vaccine delivery techniques and vaccine formulations that maximize nasal residence time and therefore, the immunogenicity of the vaccine.  Nasal immunization studies performed in rabbits and non-human primates are performed to optimize nasal vaccine methods that may be tested in humans in the future.

3. EVALUATING FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE THE INDUCTION OF FOOD ALLERGY AND DEVELOPING NOVEL MUCOSAL TREATMENTS FOR FOOD ALLERGY

The number of individuals with food allergy in steadily increasing in developed countries. The administration of food allergens via mucosal routes, a procedure known as “mucosal immunotherapy”, has provided encouraging results suggesting that mucosal immunotherapy is able to modify the host anti-food allergen response to reduce the severity of allergic responses. A recent avenue of research in the laboratory is to 1) develop novel mucosal immunotherapy formulations to treat existing food allergy and 2) evaluate the influence of environmental factors on the induction and severity of food allergies.

Education and Training

  • Assistant Research Professor, Medicine, Duke University, 1996 - 2003
  • Research Associate, Medicine, Duke University, 1995 - 1996
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Medicine, Duke University, 1993 - 1995
  • Ph.D., University of South Alabama, 1992

Selected Grants and Awards

Selected Publications

Gwinn, William M., Shaun M. Kirwan, Sheena H. Wang, Kathleen A. Ashcraft, Neil L. Sparks, Catherine R. Doil, Tom G. Tlusty, et al. “Effective induction of protective systemic immunity with nasally administered vaccines adjuvanted with IL-1.” Vaccine 28, no. 42 (October 4, 2010): 6901–14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2010.08.006.

Full Text

Clapp, Beata, Sarah Golden, Massimo Maddaloni, Herman F. Staats, and David W. Pascual. “Adenovirus F protein as a delivery vehicle for botulinum B.” Bmc Immunol 11 (July 7, 2010): 36. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2172-11-36.

Full Text

Staats, Herman F., Shaun M. Kirwan, Carol C. Whisnant, James L. Stephenson, Diane K. Wagener, and Partha P. Majumder. “Development of a bead immunoassay to measure Vi polysaccharide-specific serum IgG after vaccination with the Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi Vi polysaccharide.” Clin Vaccine Immunol 17, no. 3 (March 2010): 412–19. https://doi.org/10.1128/CVI.00354-09.

Full Text

Kunder, Christian A., Ashley L. St John, Guojie Li, Kam W. Leong, Brent Berwin, Herman F. Staats, and Soman N. Abraham. “Mast cell-derived particles deliver peripheral signals to remote lymph nodes.” J Exp Med 206, no. 11 (October 26, 2009): 2455–67. https://doi.org/10.1084/jem.20090805.

Full Text

Shelburne, Christopher P., Hideki Nakano, Ashley L. St John, Cheryl Chan, James B. McLachlan, Michael D. Gunn, Herman F. Staats, and Soman N. Abraham. “Mast cells augment adaptive immunity by orchestrating dendritic cell trafficking through infected tissues.” Cell Host Microbe 6, no. 4 (October 22, 2009): 331–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2009.09.004.

Full Text

McGowen, Afton L., Laura P. Hale, Christopher P. Shelburne, Soman N. Abraham, and Herman F. Staats. “The mast cell activator compound 48/80 is safe and effective when used as an adjuvant for intradermal immunization with Bacillus anthracis protective antigen.” Vaccine 27, no. 27 (June 2, 2009): 3544–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.03.069.

Full Text

Thompson, Joseph M., Alan C. Whitmore, Herman F. Staats, and Robert Johnston. “The contribution of type I interferon signaling to immunity induced by alphavirus replicon vaccines.” Vaccine 26, no. 39 (September 15, 2008): 4998–5003. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.07.011.

Full Text

Thompson, Joseph M., Alan C. Whitmore, Herman F. Staats, and Robert E. Johnston. “Alphavirus replicon particles acting as adjuvants promote CD8+ T cell responses to co-delivered antigen.” Vaccine 26, no. 33 (August 5, 2008): 4267–75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.05.046.

Full Text

Thompson, Joseph M., Michael G. Nicholson, Alan C. Whitmore, Melodie Zamora, Ande West, Akiko Iwasaki, Herman F. Staats, and Robert E. Johnston. “Nonmucosal alphavirus vaccination stimulates a mucosal inductive environment in the peripheral draining lymph node.” J Immunol 181, no. 1 (July 1, 2008): 574–85. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.181.1.574.

Full Text

McLachlan, James B., Christopher P. Shelburne, Justin P. Hart, Salvatore V. Pizzo, Rajen Goyal, Rhea Brooking-Dixon, Herman F. Staats, and Soman N. Abraham. “Mast cell activators: a new class of highly effective vaccine adjuvants.” Nat Med 14, no. 5 (May 2008): 536–41. https://doi.org/10.1038/nm1757.

Full Text

Staats, Herman F., S Munir Alam, Richard M. Scearce, Shaun M. Kirwan, Julia Xianzhi Zhang, William M. Gwinn, and Barton F. Haynes. “In vitro and in vivo characterization of anthrax anti-protective antigen and anti-lethal factor monoclonal antibodies after passive transfer in a mouse lethal toxin challenge model to define correlates of immunity.” Infect Immun 75, no. 11 (November 2007): 5443–52. https://doi.org/10.1128/IAI.00529-07.

Full Text

Garmise, Robert J., Herman F. Staats, and Anthony J. Hickey. “Novel dry powder preparations of whole inactivated influenza virus for nasal vaccination.” Aaps Pharmscitech 8, no. 4 (October 12, 2007): E81. https://doi.org/10.1208/pt0804081.

Full Text

Fujihashi, Kohtaro, Herman F. Staats, Shunji Kozaki, and David W. Pascual. “Mucosal vaccine development for botulinum intoxication.” Expert Rev Vaccines 6, no. 1 (February 2007): 35–45. https://doi.org/10.1586/14760584.6.1.35.

Full Text

Yu, Jae-Sung, James W. Peacock, Stacie Vanleeuwen, Tsungda Hsu, William R. Jacobs, Mark J. Cayabyab, Norman L. Letvin, et al. “Generation of mucosal anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 T-cell responses by recombinant Mycobacterium smegmatis.” Clin Vaccine Immunol 13, no. 11 (November 2006): 1204–11. https://doi.org/10.1128/CVI.00195-06.

Full Text

Pages