Sita Awasthi, Ph.D.

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Research Associate Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases)
Department: Medicine

Contact information
522F Johnson Pavilion
3610 Hamilton Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-573-8422
Fax: 215-349-5111
Lab: 215-573-8444
BS (Biology and Chemistry )
Devi Ahilya University, Indore, India , 1982.
MS (Biochemistry)
Devi Ahilya University, Indore, India , 1984.
PhD (Biochemistry)
Devi Ahilya University, Indore, India , 1989.
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Description of Research Expertise

Major focus of my research are
1. Development of genital herpes vaccine
2. Development of new animal models, or modulation of existing animal models to learn and evaluate treatment and prevention options for genital herpes, and HIV co-infections.
3. Point of Care diagnostic for HSV-2 infections for resource limited settings.
4. mRNA-LNP based genital herpes vaccine
5. mRNA encoded monoclonal Ab therapeutics.


Vaccine development.
mRNA vaccine platform
General virology techniques including, production, purification and titration of virus.
Strategy to create mutant viruses and in-vivo evaluation.
Development of animal models for evaluation of infectious agents and vaccines.
Developed humanized mouse model for HSV-2 genital infections.
Evaluation of immune responses.
Evaluation and blocking of evasion of host immune response.

Selected Publications

Lucas F. de Lima, Andre´ L. Ferreira, Sita Awasthi, Marcelo D.T. Torres, Harvey M. Friedman, Gary H. Cohen, William R. de Araujo, and Cesar de la Fuente-Nunez: Rapid and accurate detection of herpes simplex virus type 2 using a low-cost electrochemical biosensor. Cell Reports Physical Sciences. Cell Press, August 2023.

Kevin P. Egan, Sita Awasthi, Giulia Tebaldi, Lauren M. Hook, Alexis M. Naughton, Bernard T. Fowler, Mitchell Beattie, Mohamad-Gabriel Alameh, Drew Weissman, Gary H. Cohen, and Harvey M. Friedman: A Trivalent HSV-2 gC2, gD2, gE2 Nucleoside-Modified mRNA-LNP Vaccine Provides Outstanding Protection in Mice against Genital and Non-Genital HSV-1 Infection, Comparable to the Same Antigens Derived from HSV-1. Viruses 15: 1483, July 2023.

Sita Awasthi , Motoyasu Onishi , John M. Lubinski, Bernard T. Fowler, Alexis M. Naughton Lauren M. Hook, Kevin P. Egan, Masaki Hagiwara, Seiki Shirai, Akiho Sakai, Takayuki Nakagawa, Kumiko Goto, Osamu Yoshida, Alisa J. Stephens, Grace Choi, Gary H. Cohen, Kazufumi Katayama and Harvey M. Friedman: Novel Adjuvant S-540956 Targets Lymph Nodes and Reduces Genital Recurrences and Vaginal Shedding of HSV-2 DNA When Administered with HSV-2 Glycoprotein D as a Therapeutic Vaccine in Guinea Pigs. Viruses. MDPI Basel Switzerland, 15: 1148, May 2023.

Hayes CK, Villota CK, McEnany FB, Cerón S, Awasthi S, Szpara ML, Friedman HM, Leib DA, Longnecker R, Weitzman MD, Akhtar LN. : Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-2 Variation Contributes to Neurovirulence During Neonatal Infection. J Infect Dis. Page: Epub 2022/04/23. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiac151. 2022.

Hook LM, Awasthi S, Cairns TM, Alameh MG, Fowler BT, Egan KP, Sung MMH, Weissman D, Cohen GH, Friedman HM. : Antibodies to Crucial Epitopes on HSV-2 Glycoprotein D as a Guide to Dosing an mRNA Genital Herpes Vaccine. Viruses. Viruses 14: Epub 2022/03/27. doi: 10.3390/v14030540, 2022.

Sita Awasthi, James J. Knox, Angela Desmond, Mohamad-Gabriel Alameh, Brian T. Gaudette, John M. Lubinski, Alexis Naughton, Lauren M. Hook, Kevin P. Egan, Ying K. Tam, Norbert Pardi, David Allman, Eline T. Luning Prak, Michael P. Cancro, Drew Weissman, Gary H. Cohen, and Harvey M. Friedman: Trivalent nucleoside-modified mRNA vaccine yields durable memory B cell protection against genital herpes in preclinical models. Journal of Clinical Investigation 1172/JCI152310, Dec 2021.

Lauren M Hook, Harvey M Friedman and Sita Awasthi : Guinea Pig and Mouse Models for Genital Herpes infection Current Protocols in Immunology November 2021.

LaTourette PC, Awasthi S, Desmond A, Pardi N, Cohen, G H Weissman D, Friedman HM,: Protection against herpes simplex virus type 2 infection in a neonatal murine model using a trivalent nucleoside-modified mRNA in lipid nanoparticle vaccine. Vaccine 38: 7409-7413, November 2020.

Egan K, Hook, LM, Naughton A, Friedman H M, Awasthi S. : Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Trivalent Protein Vaccine Containing Glycoproteins C, D and E Protects Guinea Pigs Against HSV-1 Genital Infection. Hum Vaccin Immunother online, ahead of publication (eds.). 5: doi: 10.1080/21645515.2020.1749509, September 2020.

Egan KP, Hook, LM, Naughton A M, Pardi N, Awasthi S, Cohen GH Weissman D, Friedman HM: An HSV-2 nucleoside-modified mRNA genital herpes vaccine containing glycoproteins gC, gD, and gE protects mice against HSV-1 genital lesions and latent infection. PLoS Pathogen 16: e1008795, July 2020.

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Last updated: 10/19/2023
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