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Fikri Avci

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Associate Professor
Member of the Center for Molecular Medicine

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Ph.D. 

Research Interests:

The Avci Lab is an interdisciplinary group addressing problems at the interface of glycobiology and immunology. Our objective is to explore treatment of and protection from infectious diseases and cancer by understanding key molecular and cellular interactions between the components of the immune system and carbohydrate antigens associated with microbes or cancerous cells. Recently, we also began to investigate immunoregulatory properties of glycans associated with symbiotic bacteria inhabiting host gastrointestinal tract to enable development and healthy-functioning of the immune system. Our research program delineates immune mechanisms involved in carbohydrate-mediated adaptive immune response, and designs, synthesizes and tests prophylactic and therapeutic agents against model pathogens and cancers. Our research approach involves: (1) discovery and characterization of carbohydrate (-containing) antigens/immunogens, 2) identification of the molecular interactions involved in uptake, processing and presentation of carbohydrate antigens by the antigen presenting cells (APCs), (3) isolation and characterization of T cells and their epitopes generated from model carbohydrate antigens, (4) understanding the basis for cellular and humoral immune responses induced by carbohydrate presentation and recognition that enable eradication of disease causing agents, (5) designing novel therapeutic, prophylactic or immunoregulatory agents based on understanding molecular mechanisms. 

Selected Publications:


  1. Dustin R. Middleton, Amy V. Paschall, Jeremy A. Duke, Fikri Y. Avci*.Enzymatic hydrolysis of pneumococcal capsular polysaccharide renders the bacterium vulnerable to host defense. Infection and Immunity 86, 1-12 (2018).
    1. Featured in the “Spotlight” section of Infection and Immunitythat highlights research articles of significant interest.
    2. Faculty of 1000 evaluated and recommended by Mattias Collin. F1000 Immunology (DOI: 10.3410/f.733387483.793547056).


  1. Lina Sun, Mayumi Ishihara, Dustin R Middleton, Michael Tiemeyer and Fikri Y. Avci*.Metabolic labeling of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 validates the significant role of gp120 glycosylation during host interaction.Journal of Biological Chemistry 293, 15178-15194 (2018).


  1. Paeton L. Wantuch, Fikri Y. Avci*. Current status and future directions of invasive pneumococcal diseases and prophylactic approaches to control them. Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics14, 2303-2309 (2018).


  1. Jeremy A. Duke, Fikri Y. Avci*. “Immunological Mechanisms for Glycoconjugate Vaccines” in the book entitled “Carbohydrate-based Vaccines: From Concept to Clinic” in “ACS Symposium Series”, by Oxford University PressChapter 3, 61-74 (2018).


  1. Dustin R Middleton, Xing Zhang, Paeton L. Wantuch, Ahmet Ozdilek, Xinyue Liu, Rachel Lopilato, Nikhil Gangasani, Robert Bridger, Lance Wells, Robert J. Linhardt, and Fikri Y. Avci*.Identification and characterization of the Streptococcus pneumoniaetype 3 capsule-specific glycoside hydrolase of Paenibacillus species 32352. Glycobiology28, 90-99(2018).
    1. Faculty of 1000 evaluated and recommended by Mattias Collin. F1000 Immunology(DOI: 10.3410/f.732205330.793540108)


  1. Dustin Middleton, Lina Sun, Amy Paschall, Fikri Y. Avci*.T Cell Mediated Humoral Immune Responses to Type 3 Capsular Polysaccharide of Streptococcus pneumoniaeJournal of Immunology199, 598-603 (2017). 


  1. Dustin Middleton, Walter Lorenz, Fikri Y. Avci*. Complete Genome Sequence of the Bacterium Bacillus circulansJordan Strain 32352. Genome Announcements5, e00289-17 (2017).


  1. M. Osman Sheikh, Stephanie M. Halmo, Sneha Patel, Dustin Middleton, Hideyuki Takeuchi, Christopher M. Schafer, Christopher M. West, Robert S. Haltiwanger, Fikri Y. Avci,Kelley W. Moremen, Lance Wells. Rapid screening of sugar-nucleotide donor specificities of putative glycosyltransferases.Glycobiology27, 206-212(2016).


  1. Fikri Y. Avci*.A chicken vaccine to protect humans from diarrheal disease. Glycobiology26, 1137-1139 (2016).


  1. Lina Sun, Dustin Middleton, Paeton Wantuch, Ahmet Ozdilek, Fikri Y. Avci*. Carbohydrates as T cell Antigens with Implications to Health and Disease. Glycobiology26, 1029-1040 (2016).


  1. Guoyun Li, Lingyun Li,Changhu Xue, Dustin Middleton, Robert J. Linhardt, Fikri Y. Avci*.Profiling pneumococcal type 3-derived oligosaccharides by liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometry. Journal of Chromatography A1397, 43-51 (2015).
Courses Regularly Taught:
Other Website:
Events featuring Fikri Avci
Zoom link TBA

Fikri Avci will be giving a seminar entitled "Glycoimmunology guiding vaccine and therapeutics design" on Sept. 15. Zoom link will be announced.

Major Professor

Graduate Research Associate
Graduate Research Associate

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