Harvard Catalyst Profiles

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Gerald Bryan Pier, Ph.D.

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The research activities and funding listed below are automatically derived from NIH ExPORTER and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing items. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
  1. D18EQ-015 (Noah Cohen) Mar 1, 2018 - Feb 29, 2020
    Morris Animal Foundation
    Efficacy of Maternal Immunization Against PNAG to Protect Newborn Foals Against Rhodococcus equi Pneumonia
    Role Description: Our objective is to develop a vaccine that can protect foals against pneumonia caused by natural infection with R. equi under field conditions. Our 1st hypothesis (H1) is that maternal vaccination against PNAG can protect foals against intrabronchial infection with virulent R. equi during the 1st week of life. Our 2nd hypothesis (H2) is that this protection is correlated with the transfer of antibodies against PNAG in plasma that fix complement and mediate opsonophagocytic killing of R. equi in macrophages.
    Role: Co-investigator
  2. PIER16GO (gerald Pier) Apr 1, 2016 - Mar 31, 2018
    Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
    Identification of novel P. aeruginosa vaccine antigens for CF
    Role Description: While there have been exciting advances in the treatment of CF in the past few years, chronic lung infections remain a vexing problem that make up the one of the most difficult aspects of care for patients. Vaccines to prevent the infections, particularly for the organism known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, could greatly improve overall health and protect against lung damage and respiratory problems. However, discovering vaccines is an inexact science, with most of the work done to date following an empiric process with a lot of trial and error, and so, far, in regard to P. aeruginosa, no success. Our research proposal will use the tools of modern biology and genetics to try to expedite the process of discovering antigens by allowing the immune system of an immunized animal to determine which components of the microbe make the best target antigens. After using techniques of rapid and high-level sequencing of DNA and immunology, specific candidate vaccines will be prepared and used to immunize mice to see if the candidate does, indeed, elicit an immune response that protects against lung infection. With the candidates identified it will then be possible to further develop them for human testing, determine if CF patients lack immunity to the vaccine, thus explaining their susceptibility to infection, with the ultimate goal to alter the course of lung disease via successful vaccination.
    Role: PI
  3. (Noah Cohen) Jan 1, 2016 - Dec 31, 2017
    Grayson Jockey Club
    A Novel Vaccine Against Equine Strangles
    Role Description: Objectives: Infectious diseases are leading causes of morbidity and mortality for horses worldwide. Streptococcus equi subspecies equi (SE) causes a highly contagious disease com-monly known as strangles that remains the most frequently diagnosed infectious disease of horses.14,46 Currently-available vaccines have limitations in safety and efficacy. Great need ex-ists for novel approaches that can generate protective immunity against SE. Bacterial surface polysaccharides have been demonstrated to be highly effective as vaccines against multiple bacterial pathogens, and the Pier laboratory has discovered that a conserved one of these, termed poly-N-acetyl glucosamine (PNAG), can be chemically modified to generate protective immunity.6,10 Antibodies against naturally-occurring PNAG are not protective on their own,22,35,36 but by chemically altering the PNAG molecule a glycoform is produced that elicits antibodies that recognize native PNAG and provide protection.10,26 We will evaluate the safety, immuno-genicity and efficacy of a PNAG-based oligosaccharide conjugated to tetanus toxoid (5GlcNH2-TT) vaccine10 to protect horses against strangles (SE-induced upper respiratory tract disease) by carrying out the following specific aims and hypotheses:
    Role: Co-investigator
  4. R01EY016144 (PIER, GERALD B) Jan 1, 2005 - Jun 30, 2014
    Pathogenesis of microbial anterior eye diseases
    Role: Principal Investigator

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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  1. Flannery A, Le Berre M, Pier GB, O'Gara JP, Kilcoyne M. Glycomics Microarrays Reveal Differential In Situ Presentation of the Biofilm Polysaccharide Poly-N-acetylglucosamine on Acinetobacter baumannii and Staphylococcus aureus Cell Surfaces. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Apr 02; 21(7). PMID: 32252300.
  2. Soliman C, Pier GB, Ramsland PA. Antibody recognition of bacterial surfaces and extracellular polysaccharides. Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2020 Jun; 62:48-55. PMID: 31874385.
  3. D'Gama JD, Ma Z, Zhang H, Liu X, Fan H, Morris ERA, Cohen ND, Cywes-Bentley C, Pier GB, Waldor MK. A Conserved Streptococcal Virulence Regulator Controls the Expression of a Distinct Class of M-Like Proteins. mBio. 2019 10 22; 10(5). PMID: 31641092.
  4. Hülsdünker J, Thomas OS, Haring E, Unger S, Gonzalo Núñez N, Tugues S, Gao Z, Duquesne S, Cywes-Bentley C, Oyardi O, Kirschnek S, Schmitt-Graeff A, Pabst O, Koenecke C, Duyster J, Apostolova P, Blaser MJ, Becher B, Pier GB, Häcker G, Zeiser R. Immunization against poly-N-acetylglucosamine reduces neutrophil activation and GVHD while sparing microbial diversity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 10 08; 116(41):20700-20706. PMID: 31527267.
  5. Folmar CN, Cywes-Bentley C, Bordin AI, Rocha JN, Bray JM, Kahn SK, Schuckert AE, Pier GB, Cohen ND. In vitro evaluation of complement deposition and opsonophagocytic killing of Rhodococcus equi mediated by poly-N-acetyl glucosamine hyperimmune plasma compared to commercial plasma products. J Vet Intern Med. 2019 May; 33(3):1493-1499.