Popkin Research Lab

Welcome to the Popkin Lab at Case Western Reserve University

We address fundamental questions in two related fields: viral pathogenesis and immunology. We apply this towards disease models (e.g. skin disease).

Field(s) of Research: Immunology, Virology

Disease Focus: AIDS/HIV, Skin Cancer

Research Gate URL: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Popkin

We are currently recruiting motivated postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates. Our research combines immunology, virology, and molecular biology to test approaches targeting HIV and other chronic viral infections.  Experience in one or more of these approaches would be beneficial; however, we will consider candidates from a variety of backgrounds, provided they make a compelling case for contributing to the objectives and goals of the lab.

icon_contact_cardContact Us

Email: daniel.popkin@case.edu
Phone: 216-368-0237
Fax: 216-844-8993

547 Biomedical Research Building
2109 Adelbert Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-2624
United States


Mechanisms of viral persistence

We use mouse genetics to identify host requirements for persistent viral infection. Once identified, these host factors represent ideal targets to better understand and thus treat persistent viral infections.
Keywords:  lcmv, immunology, APCs, dendritic cells, persistent infection

HIV Cure

Currently employed anti-retroviral treatments (ART) are very effective at controlling HIV. However, a “clinical cure” for HIV will require elimination of latently infected cells, known as the “HIV reservoir”. Progress towards an HIV cure, elimination of HIV reservoir being the largest obstacle, is extremely important for patient care worldwide. Our research addresses the potential of a patient’s Natural Killer (NK) cells to eliminate their own latently-infected HIV reservoir. NK cells are large lymphoid cells that have been implicated as important for clearance of HIV.  Our research evaluates the potential to repurpose an FDA-approved drug that facilitates NK cell mediated killing of memory T cells. Specifically, we test the efficacy of our approach and derivatives thereof to eliminate latently infected memory CD4 T cells (clinically significant reservoir pool) in combination with other strategies ongoing in the HIV Cure community, to eliminate the HIV reservoir.
Keywords:  HIV Cure, Natural Killer cells, alefacept, fusion proteins, ADCC, humanized mice, bispecific antibodies

Rapid Visualization of Skin Cancer

Skin cancers are the most common form of human cancer with non-melanoma skin cancers alone equaling approximately 3.5 million new diagnoses in the USA in 2006, a number that increases every year.  These cancers commonly develop on sun exposed areas of the skin, often appearing in regions where it is desirable to minimize resection of normal tissue, e.g. facial lesions. Several approaches to ensure complete removal of diseased tissues with minimal resection of normal tissue (i.e. clear but small margins) have been developed, including Mohs Microgaphic Surgery (MMS), where tissue sections are repeatedly checked using frozen tissue histology in real-time during the surgery. MMS has the highest cure rate of all approaches (99%). However, it requires special training, and it is laborious and costly. MMS is not considered appropriate for all types and locations of skin cancersand the vast majority of skin cancer resections do not use MMS. Conventional or non-MMS resection is the most common surgical approach to remove skin cancers and represents approximately 3,000,000 or 75% of surgical procedures.  Development of a real-time imaging technique to rapidly and reliably identify cancer in the margins of conventionally resected skin cancers would significantly impact cost and quality of patient care worldwide.  We are  evaluating fluorescent “Smart Probes” to rapidly visualize skin cancer in Daniel Popkin’s VA surgical clinic during conventional surgical excisions in collaboration with the labs of James Basilion and David Wilson.
Keywords:  quenched activity based probes, skin cancer, rapid visualization of cancer, cancer margin control

Microbiome of skin inflammation

Microbial drivers of epithelial inflammation are poorly understood.  We analyzed human twins and uncovered a facial bacterial signature that was more predictive of chronic inflammatory epithelial disease (rosacea) than any other metric. We seek to use this human disease study as a platform for generally understanding the relationship of the microbiome in epithelial disease.  Specifically, this approach may define a patentable microbial biomarker for an often undiagnosed/misdiagnosed disease without objective diagnostic criteria to date.

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