Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research
Building 535, Suite 408
Frederick, MD 21702-1201
Brandon F. Keele, Ph.D., is a Principal Scientist/Principal Investigator in the
AIDS and Cancer Virus Program (ACVP) at SAIC-Frederick at the National Cancer Institute
and currently heads both the Retroviral Evolution Section and Viral Evolution Core.
Dr. Keele obtained his Ph.D. at Brigham Young University while studying the mechanism
and diversity of virus trapping by follicular dendritic cells during HIV-1 infection.
Dr. Keele previously worked at the University of Alabama at Birmingham first as
a post-doctoral fellow and then as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine.
While as a post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Keele was the lead author describing the geographic
origins of pandemic HIV-1. Recently, Dr. Keele and colleagues discovered that SIVcpz
infecting chimpanzees was pathogenic and can lead to significant population decline.
In collaboration with the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), Dr. Keele
utilized a novel limiting dilution PCR to elucidate the viral dynamics of transmission
and early diversification in HIV-1 infected humans. Early sampling and these techniques
allowed for the discovery that the vast majority of HIV-1 infections occur due to
a single founder virus that can be unambiguously identified and studied. Dr. Keele
established the Viral Evolution Core within the ACVP to expand our understanding
of transmission and prevention using nonhuman primate models.
The Retroviral Evolution Section (RES) studies various aspects of retroviral transmission,
evolution, and immune evasion using sequencing, genetic analyses and molecular biology
approaches to better understand the natural course of infection and potential sites
and mechanisms of intervention. Dr. Keele¹s laboratory utilizes various nonhuman
primate models of AIDS and newly generated viruses to better understand viral/host
The Viral Evolution Core provides expertise and innovative sequencing techniques,
molecular cloning, as well as viral evolution analyses to support extramural and
intramural investigators in order to increase the overall understanding of viral
transmission and early viral diversification, with a major focus on exploiting the
unique advantages afforded by utilizing non-human primate models. Currently the
VEC utilizes single genome amplification (SGA) and deep sequencing approaches (including
454 and SMRT technologies) to identify minor changes in viral populations. These
approaches have been used to develop mucosal transmission models where most animals
are infected with one for few variants thereby recapitulating HIV-1 infection in
humans. These include rectal, vaginal and penile models of transmission. Furthermore,
the VEC is utilizing these same approaches to help establish the efficacy of preventative
measures including vaccines, microbicides, and passive administered neutralizing
antibodies. Recently, Dr. Keele has pioneered an innovative approach to isolate
and sequence viral RNA and DNA directly from HIV/SIV infected tissue as well as
from individual cells/sections that are isolated by laser capture microdissection.
These assays are currently being utilized to pinpoint the exact conditions and events
surrounding viral transmission in nonhuman primates.