Research | Publications | Figures
Virginia L. Scofield, Ph.D.
RAHC Med Res Div Tel: (956) 393-6468Fax: (210) 567-6428Email:
Keywords: HIV, mucosal transmission, thyroid axis hormones, intestinal epithelial stem cells; the intestinal “thymus”
Dr. Scofield’s graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin identified central aspects of retrovirus-immune system interactions in birds. Her thesis work, published in 1998, was the first to identify a T-cell cytopathic retrovirus, prior to the identification of HIV in the early 1980’s.
For postdoctoral training at the Stanford University School of Medicine, she changed her research focus, working with sea animals called tunicates (see Images, below), which are related to the ancestors of all vertebrates. Her work identified and described the primary biological roles controlled by a histocompatibility gene locus that mediates self-nonself recognition in these animals.
In her own laboratory at the UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Scofield extended these evolutionary studies into human disease. Her team demonstrated that the HIV virus binds to human sperm, that these sperm can carry HIV into susceptible target cells, and that sperm participate in the mucosal transfer of HiV during sexual contact (see Images, below).
This work is ongoing in her laboratory at the Medical Research Division of the Edinburg Regional Academic Health Center (E-RAHC).
At the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at Science Park, Dr. Scofield began new studies of intestinal epithelial stem cells and their roles in ancient pathways, shared in tunicates (above) that govern the differentiation of intestinal T cells.
Parallel experiments are focused on the polypeptide components of the tunicate and vertebrate thyroid hormone control axes, and the roles they play in gut epithelial stem cell homeostasis, defense of the gut from microbial pathogens, and prevention of intestinal malignancies (see Images, below). This work is ongoing in the Scofield laboratory at the E-RAHC.
Dr. Scofield is the holder of US Patent #58004191, “Sperm as Immunogen Carriers”. This utility patent is for sperm-mediated vaginal delivery for vaccines and contraceptive agents.