Dr. Zaharatos obtained his MD at McGill University. He then pursued subspeciality training in Internal Medicine at the Montreal General Hospital and in McGill’s Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology Fellowship Program. In 2001, he obtained a CIHR research fellowship award to work with Dr. David Ho at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC) in New York City. While in the Ho lab, he initially worked on developing in vitro models of the kinetics of HIV-1 replication in CD4+ T-cells, as well as on innate mechanisms of defense against HIV, notably the sources and antiviral activity of human alpha-defensin proteins.
From 2005 to 2007, while continuing work at ADARC, he joined the Clinical Scholars Program at Rockefeller University (RU). As an instructor in clinical investigation at RU, he received training in clinical and translational research methods, and participated as a sub-investigator in two Phase I investigator-initiated HIV vaccine clinical trials under David Ho’s leadership (one studying a Modified Vaccinia Ankara vaccine and the other in vivo electroporation delivered DNA vaccine). In 2006, ADARC was awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and joined the Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery (CAVD). As an investigator in Dr. Ho’s lab, and a member of the CAVD’s Ho Vaccine Discovery Consortium, Dr. Zaharatos studied ways of utilizing IgG-FcγR interactions to augment vaccine potency. This, and other work in the laboratory, made extensive use of in vivo electroporation delivered DNA vaccines in animal models.
In 2008, Dr. Zaharatos returned to Montreal as an attending staff physician in the Jewish General Hospital’s Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Microbiology. He has a growing HIV medicine clinical practice and has responsibilities as an infectious disease consultant and microbiologist. He established his own laboratory at the Lady Davis Institute in 2009.
Major Research Activities
Dr. Zaharatos’ research focuses on two major themes. Using DNA vaccines as a flexible platform for vaccine innovation and experimentation, the Zaharatos lab works on rational vector, immunogen, and adjuvant design, including ways of guiding immunogens toward antigen-presentation pathways that enhance B-cell and CD4 T-helper responses. The ultimate goal of this work is to create potent DNA vaccines targeting viral envelope glycoproteins such as HIV-1 gp120 and influenza virus hemagglutinin. The laboratory is also interested in the basic mechanisms underlying DNA vaccine immunogenicity and has an active program centered on deciphering innate immune responses to foreign DNA.
Vasan S, Schlesinger SJ, Chen Z, Hurley A, Lombardo A, Than S, Adesanya P, Bunce C, Boaz M, Boyle R, Sayeed E, Clark L, Dugin D, Boente-Carrera M, Schmidt C, Fang Q, Lei Ba, Huang Y, Zaharatos GJ, Gardiner DF, Caskey M,
Seamons L, Ho M, Dally L, Smith C, Cox J, Gill D, Gilmour J, Keefer MC, Fast P, Ho DD. Phase 1 safety and immunogenicity evaluation of ADMVA, amultigenic, modified vaccinia Ankara-HIV-1 B'/C candidate vaccine. PLoS One. 2010 Jan 25;5(1):e8816.
Gardiner DF, Rosenberg T, Zaharatos J, Franco F, and Ho DD. A DNA vaccine targeting the receptor-binding domain of C. difficile toxin A. Vaccine. 2009 Jun 2; 27(27):3598-604.
Zaharatos GJ, He T, Lopez P, Yu W, Yu J, and Zhang L. α-Defensins Released Into Stimulated CD8+ T-Cell Supernatants Are Likely Derived from Residual Granulocytes Within the Irradiated Allogeneic Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells Used as Feeders. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. August 2004, 36(5):993-1005.