Dr. Beth D. Kirkpatrick

Dr. Beth D. Kirkpatrick


Infectious Disease Immunology

The overarching focus of the work in Dr. Kirkpatrick’s lab and in the Vaccine Testing Center is the concentration on Infectious Diseases of global significance.

A. Improving Rotavirus Vaccinations: Refining Correlates of Protection and Evaluating Durability
Oral vaccines, which work exceptionally well to protect infants and children in the U.S., can fail to do so in developing countries. Case in point – the oral rotavirus vaccine has a strong track record in preventing the majority of cases of rotavirus-diarrhea hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. In developing world settings, however, the vaccine has only worked half as well, leading to more than 450,000 children’s deaths annually due to rotavirus-related dehydration.

Understanding and remedying this paradox is the goal and challenge of a new $2.2 million dollar 2.5-year research award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to University of Vermont Vaccine Testing Center (VTC) investigators. Led by Beth Kirkpatrick, M.D., Professor of Medicine and VTC Director, co-investigators on the grant include Sean Diehl, Ph.D., E. Ross Colgate, M.P.H., Dorothy Dickson, M.Sc., and Benjamin Lee, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease specialist who joined the VTC, UVM College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, and The UVM Children’s Hospital in August 2015.

B. Dengue Fever Immunology Study
Mosquitoes, and – more accurately – the diseases they can transmit, are on the minds of University of Vermont vaccine researchers Sean Diehl, Ph.D., and Beth Kirkpatrick, M.D., of the UVM Vaccine Testing Center (VTC). They and UVM colleagues Jon Boyson, Ph.D., and Jason Botten, Ph.D., just received a three-year $2.2 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to study the immunological basis of protection from dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease that affects as many as 400 million people annually.

In addition to UVM VTC investigators, the team includes researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, the University of North Carolina, and Atreca, Inc. Diehl and Kirkpatrick, UVM Professor of Medicine and VTC Director, and colleagues will be conducting and coordinating research that examines how the immune system recognizes dengue virus in an effort to confirm the protective effects of new vaccines in development. The new award builds on nine years of collaboration between the VTC team and Johns Hopkins’ Center for Immunization Research, led by Associate Professor of International Health Anna Durbin, M.D., and the NIAID’s Stephen Whitehead, Ph.D., to test new candidate dengue vaccines. Whitehead designed the vaccine candidates.

C. Exploration of the Biologic Basis for Underperformance of Oral Polio and Rotavirus Vaccines in Bangladesh
Oral polio and rotavirus vaccines are significantly less effective in children living in the developing world. Tropical enteropathy, which is associated with intestinal inflammation, decreased absorption and increased permeability, may contribute substantially to oral vaccine failure in developing country settings. Other possible causes of oral vaccine underperformance include malnutrition, interference with maternal or breast milk antibodies, changes in gut microbiota, and genetic susceptibility. The primary hypothesis of Exploration of the Biologic Basis for Underperformance of Oral Polio and Rotavirus Vaccines in Bangladesh clinical trial is that tropical enteropathy decreases the effectiveness of oral polio and rotavirus vaccines in infants by disrupting gut integrity. The study will enroll 700 healthy infants born in the urban slum of Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh, as well as their mothers, and employ a prospective cohort, 2×2 factorial study design.

D. Dengue Fever Vaccine Study
An exciting research study, the Dengue Fever Vaccine Study aims to test the effectiveness and safety of an experimental vaccine for the prevention of dengue fever. A different lot of this vaccine was previously tested in another trial and was generally well-tolerated. This current research trial will evaluate a new lot of this vaccine and the results will be compared with those of the previous trial.

The Vaccine Testing Center Team

The Vaccine Testing Center Team

C207 Given


Dr. Kirkpatrick received her M.D. in 1992 from Albany Medical College and completed an internship, residency and chief residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Rochester. She was a Fellow in Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins from 1996-1999, and joined the faculty of UVM in 1999. Dr. Kirkpatrick has been board-certified in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, and holds a certificate of knowledge in tropical medicine and travelers’ health.


Marya Carmolli
        Senior Research Technician
Ross Colgate
        Research Specialist
Dan Cotnoir
        Research Technician
Nancy Graham
        Research Technician
Ben McElvany
        Research Technician
Forida Nazib
        Research Technician
Eli Sendra
        Research Technician
Cassandra Ventrone
        Research Technician
Mary Claire Walsh
        Research Technician


Kirkpatrick BD, Whitehead SS, Pierce KK, Tibery CM, Grier PL, Hynes NA, Larsson CJ, Sabundayo BP, Talaat KR, Janiak A, Carmolli MP, Luke CJ, Diehl SA, Durbin AP. The live attenuated dengue vaccine TV003 elicits complete protection against dengue in a human challenge model Sci Transl Med. 2016 Mar 16;8(330):330ra36

Colgate ER, Haque R, Carmolli MP, Dickson DM, Carmolli MP, Mychaleckyj JC, Nayak U, Qadri F, Alam K, Walsh MC, Diehl SA, Zaman K, Petri WA Jr., Kirkpatrick BD. The Impact of Serum Zinc and Delayed Dosing on Rotavirus Gastroenteritis and Rotavirus Oral Vaccine Performance in Bangladeshi Infants Clinical Infectious Diseases, Accepted, in press

Durbin AP*, Kirkpatrick BD*, Pierce KK, Carmolli MP, Tibery CM, Grier PL, Hynes N, Opert K, Jarvis AP, Sabundayo BP, McElvany BD, Sendra E, Larsson CJ, Jo M, Lovchik JM, Luke CJ, Walsh MC, Fraser EA, Subbarao K, Whitehead SS. [*shared first authors] A 12-month interval dosing study in adults indicates that a single dose of the NIAID tetravalent dengue vaccine induces a robust neutralizing antibody response J Infect Dis. 2016 Feb 16. pii: jiw067. [Epub ahead of print]

Kirkpatrick BD, Durbin AP, Pierce KK, Carmolli MP, Tibery CM, Grier PL, Hynes N, Diehl SA, Elwood D, Jarvis AP, Sabundayo BP, Lyon CE, Larsson CJ, Jo M, Lovchik JM, Luke CJ, Walsh MC, Fraser EA, Subbarao K, Whitehead SS. Robust and Balanced Immune Responses to All 4 Dengue Virus Serotypes Following Administration of a Single Dose of a Live Attenuated Tetravalent Dengue Vaccine to Healthy, Flavivirus-Naive Adults J Infect Dis. 2015 Sep 1;212(5):702-10

Kirkpatrick BD, Colgate ER, Mychaleckyj JC, Haque R, Dickson DM, Carmolli MP, Nayak U, Taniuchi M, Naylor C, Qadri F, Ma JZ, Alam M, Walsh MC, Diehl SA; PROVIDE Study Teams, Petri WA Jr. The "Performance of Rotavirus and Oral Polio Vaccines in Developing Countries" (PROVIDE) study: description of methods of an interventional study designed to explore complex biologic problems Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2015 Apr;92(4):744-51

All Kirkpatrick publications