1. Kansas State University
  2. »Division of Communications and Marketing
  3. »K-State Today
  4. »Deborah Fuller to present Anatomy and Physiology Seminar

K-State Today

December 6, 2021

Deborah Fuller to present Anatomy and Physiology Seminar

Submitted by Gail Eyestone

Deborah Fuller, professor in the microbiology department at the University of Washington School of Medicine and associate director of research at the Washington National Primate Research Center, will present "Next Generation Nucleic Acid Vaccines to Combat Emerging Infectious Diseases and Pandemics" at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, in the Mara Conference Center, 407 Trotter Hall. 

Nucleic acid vaccines were a turning point for the pandemic, but the pandemic was also a turning point for nucleic acid vaccines. This seminar will discuss how the pandemic accelerated the development of nucleic acid vaccines, including mRNA and DNA vaccines and our recent efforts to improve nucleic acid vaccines, including novel approaches to enhance their delivery and stability, efficacy and response time to combat emerging new variants and pre-empt future pandemics.

Before her academic career, Fuller initially worked in biotechnology developing vaccines. She leads a team that is developing and optimizing antivirals and nucleic acid vaccine platform technologies, including DNA and RNA vaccines for infectious diseases. She has led the translation of two vaccines from bench to clinical trials, including the first DNA vaccine to induce protective levels of immunity in humans. Fuller has authored more than 100 manuscripts and book chapters and is a co-inventor on more than a dozen patents for vaccines and antivirals. She has served as principal investigator on numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and nonprofit foundations. Fuller has served as a member of the National Institutes of Health, Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Vaccines for Microbial Diseases study section. She is also co-founder of a biotechnology company, Orlance Inc. that aims to advance nucleic acid vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer and a needle-free/pain-free device to deliver these vaccines into the skin. Fuller's most recent honors include the University of Washington Latinx Faculty Excellence in Research Awards in 2019 and 2020 and the Hope College Distinguished Alumni Award in 2021.

In the past year, Fuller has played a key role in the advancement of vaccines and antivirals for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Her lab has developed a second-generation nucleic acid vaccine for COVID-19 that entered human clinical trials in spring 2021 to enable faster manufacture and worldwide distribution. At the start of the pandemic, Fuller was appointed to the leadership team for the NIH's COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics Evaluation Network that supports preclinical studies in nonhuman primates to accelerate the most promising COVID-19 vaccines and antivirals into the clinic. Fuller has also played a key role as an expert in vaccines to inform the community and public of the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines. She has been featured on Bloomberg TV, CNN, NPR and has contributed to news articles, op-eds, podcasts and instructional videos published by The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, Huff Post, Vox, The Seattle Times, Conversation.com and others. Her op-ed articles "Can vaccinated people still spread the coronavirus?" and "3 medical innovations fueled by COVID-19 that will outlast the pandemic" have been translated into multiple languages and read by millions of readers worldwide.