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Keynote Speaker


Dr. David R. Martinez


Dr. David R. Martinez

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. David R. Martinez was born in El Salvador and moved to Ardmore Oklahoma at age 13. Dr. Martinez graduated class valedictorian from Ardmore High School. Subsequently, Dr. Martinez received his B.S. in Microbiology with Distinction from the University of Oklahoma (OU) in 2013.

Dr. Martinez subsequently received his PhD in Molecular Genetics and Microbiology from Duke University in 2018 under the mentorship of leading vaccine immunologist Dr. Sallie R. Permar. David’s PhD research on host immune responses to HIV was funded by an NIH NIAID N.R.S.A. F31, a Robert D. Watkins Research Fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology, and a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Graduate Diversity Enrichment Award. David’s PhD dissertation research was published mBio, Journal of Virology, Nature Communications, PLoS Pathogens, and Retrovirology. Dr. Martinez published his major dissertation work as a first author in the journal Cell.

Dr. Martinez began his postdoctoral fellowship in 2018 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the laboratory of the world-renowned coronavirologist Dr. Ralph S. Baric. Dr. Martinez’s research focuses on host and viral pathogen interactions using Dengue virus and SARS-CoV-2 as models to understand how viruses evade host immune responses. Dr. Martinez’s work is funded by an NIH NIAID N.R.S.A F32, a Burroughs Wellcome Fund 2019 Postdoctoral Enrichment Program Award, and a Hanna H. Gray Fellowship from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2020. Dr. Martinez’s postdoctoral work has been published in Nature, Science, Cell, The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine, Cell Host and Microbe, Cell Reports, Science Immunology, mAbs, and Disease Models and Mechanisms. Dr. Martinez has played a key role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Martinez was involved in demonstrating that the Moderna mRNA 1273 vaccine can protect against infection in mouse and non-human primate models (Nature 2020 and NEJM 2020) and contributed to landmark papers demonstrating that a vaccine-elicited and natural-infection immunity could protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection in non-human primates (Science 2020 and Science 2020). In addition, Dr. Martinez published a series of seminal papers as a first author demonstrating that early treatment with COVID-19 antibodies is optimal early in infection (Martinez D.R., et al. Cell Reports. 2021), that a chimeric universal mRNA vaccine against sarbecoviruses (Martinez D.R., et al. Science. 2021). David also discovered a broadly protective epitope on sarbecoviruses (Martinez D.R., et al. Science Translational Medicine. 2021). David also discovered that the genotypic variation within dengue virus serotypes contributes significantly to immune evasion (Martinez D.R., et al. Cell Reports. 2020).

Dr. Martinez is committed to training the next generation of scientists from diverse backgrounds, including underrepresented minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and women scientists. His undergraduate mentees have published first-author research and review papers and have gone on to successful careers including enrolling in PhD, MD, and MD/PhD programs at the University of Oxford, Harvard Medical School, and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.