Dan Hoft, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Hoft was trained in Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa, where he received an NIH Physician Science Training Award (PSTA) allowing him to complete a Ph.D. in microbiology/immunology. He came to Saint Louis University in 1992 and has received continuous NIH funding since his arrival. In 2006, he was named the Director of the new Division of Immunobiology.
Dr. Hoft's current NIH funded work focuses on investigations of the basic mechanisms of mucosal and systemic immunity protective against mucosally transmitted, chronic intracellular pathogens. Most of his research involves 2 model pathogens, the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Molecular biological and immunological techniques are being used to develop and test new vaccines in animal models and human vaccine trials. His work demonstrated for the first time that antigen-specific IFN-gamma responses are important for resistance to T. cruzi. His lab has cloned multiple T. cruzi antigens capable of stimulating IFN?g production by T cells, and multiple modern molecular approaches are being used to develop protective T. cruzi vaccines. His work has also defined that the anatomical routes of mucosal invasion after T. cruzi oral and conjunctival challenges.
In addition, Dr. Hoft has conducted 8 human vaccine trials with BCG, the only TB vaccine currently available. These clinical trials were designed to investigate whether mucosal vaccinations or booster vaccinations with BCG or other new vaccines could enhance the levels of protective immunity induced by TB vaccination. These trials provide human samples being used to identify the specific subsets of mucosal and systemic immune responses important for protective immunity, and the specific mycobacterial antigens that induce protective responses. This work has provided the first evidence that human gamma/delta T cells have an important role in vaccine immunity and need to be considered as possible new targets for vaccination. This work has also identified specific mycobacterial antigens that can induce T cells inhibitory for intracellular mycobacterial growth. He is collaborating with other investigators, the NIH, industrial partners and the Aeras Global TB Foundation to begin phase I testing of promising new TB vaccine candidates.