Hildegund C.J. Ertl, M.D.

Hildegund C.J. Ertl, M.D.

  • Caspar Wistar Professor in Vaccine Research
  • Professor, Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center
  • 215-898-3863, Office

Research in the laboratory of Hildegund C.J. Ertl centers on developing vaccines for an array of diseases and conditions—including AIDS and some forms of cancer—not typically considered to be treated using this approach. These vaccines aim to protect against future infections and look to create new therapies for diseases already affecting people. Projects fall into six broad categories: HIV vaccines, human papilloma virus vaccines, rabies vaccine models, universal influenza vaccine, vaccines to Epstein-Barr virus, and immune response associated with gene therapy using adeno-associated viral vectors.

Dr. Ertl came to The Wistar Institute as an associate professor in 1987. A native of Euskirchen, Germany, Dr. Ertl received her medical degree from University of Göttingen. While in medical school, she began her scientific training as a student in the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine. After research fellowships at the Australian National University and the University of Minnesota, Dr. Ertl joined the faculty of Harvard University before transitioning to Wistar. She became a full professor at Wistar in 1996, and holds professorships at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In 2007, Dr. Ertl helped write the next chapter in Wistar’s long history of vaccine research and development with the creation of The Wistar Institute Vaccine Center. The Vaccine Center unites the full expanse of Wistar’s current efforts in immunology and vaccinology with researchers around the world.

The Ertl laboratory has pioneered numerous patented technologies to create new vaccines. Much of the laboratory’s efforts on developing a new preventative vaccine for rabies—a disease that retains a disastrous presence in places across the globe—have yielded useful technologies that the Ertl laboratory is applying to combating other viruses. This includes utilizing a modified chimpanzee virus as a vaccine carrier to induce an immune response against HIV, and a new therapeutic vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), a leading cause of cervical cancer.

Selected Publications

1. Ertl HC, High KA. The impact of AAV capsid-specific T cell responses on design and outcome of clinical gene transfer trials with recombinant AAV vectors - an evolving controversy. Hum Gene Ther. 2017. PMID: 28042943.

2. Dawany N, Parzych EM, Showe LC, Ertl HC. Age-related changes in the gene expression profile of antigen-specific mouse CD8+ T cells can be partially reversed by blockade of the BTLA/CD160 pathways during vaccination. Aging (Albany NY). 2016 Nov 9;8(12):3272-3297. PMID: 27922818.

3. Emmer KL, Wieczorek L, Tuyishime S, Molnar S, Polonis VR, Ertl HC.  Antibody responses to prime-boost vaccination with an HIV-1 gp145 envelope protein and chimpanzee adenovirus vectors expressing HIV-1 gp140. AIDS. 2016 Oct 23;30(16):2405-2414. PMID: 27525550.

4. Haut LH, Gill AL, Kurupati RK, Bian A, Li Y, Giles-Davis W, Xiang Z, Zhou XY, Ertl HC. A Partial E3 Deletion in Replication-Defective Adenoviral Vectors Allows for Stable Expression of Potentially Toxic Transgene Products. Hum Gene Ther Methods. 2016 Oct;27(5):187-196. PMID: 27604324

5. Zhang Y, Ertl HC.  Aging: T cell metabolism within tumors. Aging (Albany NY). 2016 Jun;8(6):1163-4. PMID: 27282177

6.  Zhou X, Xiang Z, Ertl HC. Vaccine Design: Replication-Defective Adenovirus Vectors. Methods Mol Biol. 2016;1404:329-49. PMID: 27076309

7. Vercauteren K, Hoffman BE, Zolotukhin I, Keeler GD, Xiao JW, Basner-Tschakarjan E, High KA, Ertl HC, Rice CM, Srivastava A, de Jong YP, Herzog RW. Superior In vivo Transduction of Human Hepatocytes Using Engineered AAV3 Capsid. Mol Ther. 2016 Jun;24(6):1042-9. PMID: 27019999

8. Kannan S, Dawany N, Kurupati R, Showe LC, Ertl HC. Age-related changes in the transcriptome of antibody-secreting cells. Oncotarget. 2016 Mar 22;7(12):13340-53. PMID: 26967249

9. Zhang Y, Ertl HC. Depletion of FAP+ cells reduces immunosuppressive cells and improves metabolism and functions CD8+T cells within tumors. Oncotarget. 2016 Apr 26;7(17):23282-99. PMID: 26943036

10. Zhang Y, Ertl HC.  Starved and Asphyxiated: How Can CD8(+) T Cells within a Tumor Microenvironment Prevent Tumor Progression. Front Immunol. 2016 Feb 10;7:32. PMID: 26904023