Speaker's BiographyPeter Kwong
Chief, Structural Biology Section in the Laboratory of Virology, Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center
Peter Kwong works at the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center as chief of the Structural Biology Section in the virology laboratory. Kwong has studied the atomic-level structures of the HIV protein, gp120, which resides on the outer surface of the virus, as well as the structure of the primary HIV receptor, CD4. HIV uses gp120 to find and latch on to CD4-containing immune cells in the first step of infection. By using X-ray crystallography, Kwong elucidated the atomic-level structure of gp120 in complex with the CD4 receptor and a neutralizing human antibody. The results of this experiment and discovery were published in the journals Nature and Science in 1998. Although structural information has not played a large role in vaccine development thus far, Kwong's research may change this. Kwong entered the University of Chicago at age 16 and earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry and physics and a master's degree in biochemistry by age 20. He earned his second master's degree and his doctoral degree in biochemistry and molecular biophysics from Columbia University in New York.