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Dr. M. Gordon Joyce, Chief of Structural Biology

Since January 10, 2020—the day scientists published the genetic sequence of a novel coronavirus— Dr. Gordon Joyce and his colleagues at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) have been working diligently to advance research efforts to prevent and treat COVID-19.

Dr. Joyce has been working around the clock to understand and document the structural biology of this novel disease. He successfully produced the most detailed atomic level view of the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein receptor binding domain— the part of the virus that binds to the lungs. This detailed understanding of the structure has been critical to vaccine discovery and development efforts. 

Joyce and the WRAIR team, led by the Director of the Institute’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch (EIDB),  recently advanced their leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate, called SpFN, into manufacturing for a Phase I clinical trial that will begin screening in July with vaccination in September. The Structural Biology lab is also involved in the search for Monoclonal Antibodies (mAbs), a type of immunotherapy that may treat and help prevent COVID-19.

Dr. M. Gordon Joyce received a B.Sc. (Hons) in Biochemistry from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2001, followed by a Ph.D. in Structural Biology from the University of Leicester in 2006. He then began work on the structural characterization of human immunoreceptors with Dr. Peter Sun in the Laboratory of Immunogenetics at NIH. In 2011, he moved to the NIH’s Vaccine Research Center working with Dr. Gary Nabel, Dr. Peter Kwong and Dr. John Mascola on the structure-based design of HIV-1, Influenza and RSV vaccine candidates.

Most recently, he has been involved in the study of understanding the induction and prevalence of broadly protective antibodies in humans following infection or vaccination. Dr. Joyce is an author of over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts and a co-inventor on 7 patents describing vaccine immunogens and monoclonal antibody therapeutics for HIV-1, Influenza, RSV, and MERS.