Department of Microbiology

faculty photo

Michael R. Betts, PhD

Associate Professor of Microbiology
Department: Microbiology

Contact information
402C Johnson Pavilion
3610 Hamilton Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-573-2773
Fax: 215-573-4446
Graduate Group Affiliations
BS (Zoology)
University of Maryland, 1990.
PhD (Microbiology and Immunology)
University of North Carolina, 1998.
Permanent link
> Perelman School of Medicine   > Faculty   > Details

Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests
Human immune responses; Viral Immunology; HIV immunopathogenesis; Vaccine-induced immune responses.

Key words: HIV; T cell; Immune Response

Description of Research
My laboratory studies human T lymphocyte function in order to understand the role of these cells in controlling or eliminating viral pathogens and providing protection from infection. Our primary interest is in determining how and if the human CD8+ T cell response to HIV controls viral replication. We also study the immune response against a variety of other human pathogens, including Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, influenza, and vaccinia virus. Importantly, the techniques we utilize can be applied to the study of the cell-mediated immune response against any human pathogen, including emerging pathogens and bioterrorism agents. We are also very interested in characterizing the human T cell response to various vaccine regimens against a variety of human pathogens designed to generate cell-mediated immunity in order to understand the underlying principles of vaccine-mediated immune protection.

Human T lymphocytes have numerous functions, including the ability to produce various cytokines and chemokines, as well as mediate cell death through perforin- or fas-mediated cytotoxicity. Our research utilizes the most cutting edge techniques to measure human T lymphocyte responses through the use of polychromatic flow cytometry. This technique allows for the simultaneous examination of up to 18 separate parameters on lymphocytes. By measuring multiple T cell functions simultaneously, we can characterize the complexity of the CD4+ and CD8+ T cell response to HIV, EBV, CMV, Flu, and vaccinia. Not surprisingly, the T cell responses to these different viruses are quite variable; however, common response patterns do exist, and the importance of these patterns in the control of viral replication is the subject of future studies.

The current direction within the lab is to determine the underlying mechanisms that control the cell fate and functional characteristics of HIV-specific T and B cells in the context of HIV infection and disease progression. Current studies in the lab in this regard are listed below with Laboratory personnel:

Lab personnel:
Morgan Reuter-Moslow, Postdoctoral Fellow. HIV-specific T cell immunity. T cell function in human lymph nodes; CD200-CD200R pathway interactions in human T lymphocytes.

Laura McLane, Postdoctoral Fellow. Expression, localization, and biochemical properties of the transcription factors T-bet and Eomesodermin within human T lymphocytes.

Korey Demers, Graduate Student-CAMB MVP. Role of T-bet and Eomesodermin transcription patterns in CD8+ T cell mediated control of HIV infection during acute and chronic infection.

Carolina Pombo Martinez, Graduate Student-CAMB MVP. Expression patterns of inhibitory receptors in human T cells in peripheral blood and lymph node in the context of HIV infection.

Irene Bukh, Graduate Student-VMD/PHD, CAMB MVP. Vaccine induced immune activation in rhesus macaques and SIV infection susceptibility.

Jamie Knox, Graduate Student- CAMB MVP. B cell dynamics in HIV infection. T-bet expression and function in B cell subsets in humans.

Emily Roberts, Graduate Student- IGG. Immune activation and SIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cell response development in acute SIV infection.
Jay Gardner, Research Specialist

Selected Publications

Knox, J.J., Buggert, M., Kardava, L., Seaton, K.E., Eller, M.A., Canaday, D.H., Robb, M.L., Ostrowski, M.A., Deeks, S.G., Slifka, M.K., Tomaras, G.D., Moir, S., Moody, M.A., Betts, M.R.: T-bet+ B cells are induced by human viral infections and dominate the HIV gp140 response. JCI Insight 2(8): 92943, April 2017.

Petrovas, C., Ferrando-Martinez, S., Gerner, M.Y., Casazza, J.P., Pegu, A., Deleage, C., Cooper, A., Hataye, J., Andrews, S., Ambrozak, D., Del Río Estrada, P.M., Boritz, E., Paris, R., Moysi, E., Boswell, K.L., Ruiz-Mateos, E., Vagios, I., Leal, M., Ablanedo-Terrazas, Y., Rivero, A., Gonzalez-Hernandez, L.A., McDermott, A.B., Moir, S., Reyes-Terán, G., Docobo, F., Pantaleo, G., Douek, D.C., Betts, M.R., Estes, J.D., Germain, R.N., Mascola, J.R., Koup, R.A.: Follicular CD8 T cells accumulate in HIV infection and can kill infected cells in vitro via bispecific antibodies. Science Translational Medicine 9(373), 2017.

Tauriainen, J., Scharf, L., Frederiksen, J., Naji, A., Ljunggren, H.G., Sönnerborg, A., Lund, O., Reyes-Terán, G., Hecht, F.M., Deeks, S.G., Betts, M.R., Buggert, M., Karlsson, A.C.: Perturbed CD8+T cell T IGIT/CD226/PVR axis despite early initiation of antiretroviral treatment in HIV infected individuals. Scientific Reports 7: 40354, 2017.

Knox, JJ, Kaplan, DE, Betts, MR: T-bet-expressing B cells during HIV and HCV infections. Cell Immunol. 2017 Notes: Epub ahead of print 2017.

Calcedo, R., Somanathan, S., Qin, Q., Betts, M.R., Rech, A.J., Vonderheide, R.H., Mueller, C., Flotte, T.R., Wilson, J.M.: Class I-restricted T-cell responses to a polymorphic peptide in a gene therapy clinical trial for α-1-antitrypsin deficiency. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114(7): 1655-1659, 2017.

Yadav, A., Betts, M.R., Collman, R.G.: Statin modulation of monocyte phenotype and function: implications for HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorders. Journal of Neurovirology 22(5): 584-596, 2016.

Buggert, M., Frederiksen, J., Lund, O., Betts, M.R., Biague, A., Nielsen, M., Tauriainen, J., Norrgren, H., Medstrand, P., Karlsson, A.C., Jansson, M.: CD4+ T cells with an activated and exhausted phenotype distinguish immunodeficiency during aviremic HIV-2 infection. AIDS (London, England) 30(16): 2415-2426, 2016.

Demers, K.R., Makedonas, G., Buggert, M., Eller, M.A., Ratcliffe, S.J., Goonetilleke, N., Li, C.K., Eller, L.A., Rono, K., Maganga, L., Nitayaphan, S., Kibuuka, H., Routy, J-P., Slifka, M.K., Haynes, B.F., McMichael, A.J., Bernard, N.F., Robb, M.L., Betts, M.R.: Temporal dynamics of CD8+ T cell effector responses during primary HIV infection. PLoS Pathogens 12(8): e1005805, 2016.

Swanstrom, A.E., Haggarty, B., Jordan, A.P., Romano, J., Leslie, G.J., Aye, P.P., Marx, P.A., Lackner, A.A., Del Prete, G.Q., Robinson, J.E., Betts, M.R., Montefiori, D.C., LaBranche, C.C., Hoxie, J.A.: Derivation and Characterization of a CD4-Independent, Non-CD4-Tropic Simian Immunodeficiency Virus. Journal of Virology 90(10): 4966-80, 2016.

Roberts, E.R., Carnathan, D.G., Li, H., Shaw, G.M., Silvestri, G., Betts, M.R.: Collapse of Cytolytic Potential in SIV-Specific CD8+ T Cells Following Acute SIV Infection in Rhesus Macaques. PLoS Pathogens 12(12): e1006135, 2016.

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Last updated: 03/14/2018
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