CHARLES R. WIRA, Professor of Physiology, Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH, USA.

Prof. Chuck Wira is an internationally recognized scientist with specific expertise in endocrinology and mucosal immunology as it relates to the immune system at mucosal surfaces of the female reproductive tract. Dr. Wira’s research focuses on how female sex hormones influence innate and adaptive immunity in the female reproductive tract of animal models and humans. As Principal Investigator of an NIH funded Program Project grants for 14 years, he has led a major collaborative effort at Dartmouth Medical School to characterize immune functions in the Fallopian tube, uterus, cervix and vagina to define the roles of estradiol and progesterone in mucosal immune regulation. His research focuses on the phenotypic and functional characterization of the mucosal immune system and in understanding at the cellular and molecular level the ways in which this system is regulated to protect against potential pathogens including HIV. Recent studies focus on the role of mucosal immunity in natural and vaccine induced protection against HIV. Wira has published approximately 175 research papers in this area.

Dr. Wira has actively participated in professional societies throughout his career. He is an active member of the Society for Mucosal Immunology, American Society for Reproductive Immunology (ASRI)), American Society for Microbiology and the International Society for Immunology of Reproduction (ISIR). He is the past Secretary to ASRI and has served as Councillor for ASRI from 1998-2006. Dr. Wira was the Secretary General of ISIR and the President of ASRI (2008-2009) and is the President Elect ISIR (2013-2016).

Dr. Wira is actively involved in a Dartmouth Medical School Fogarty Grant that is working with colleagues at Dartmouth and the University of Muhimbili in Tanzania to bring scientists to Dartmouth for training in HIV-related Mucosal Immunology. He also sits on the board of directors of an NGO at the University of Nairobi, Kenya that focuses on improving women’s health against a spectrum of diseases including AIDS. Dr. Wira’s laboratory includes graduate students and Research Associates from the USA, China, India, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Australia.

Dr. Wira has been awarded research funding from the NIH for the past 35 yrs. Most recently, he has received a 5-year NIH grant to understand the role that human FRT immune cells play in protection against the heterosexual transmission of HIV-1. The goal in this study is to test the hypothesis that immune cells, specifically the epithelial cells which line mucosa of the female reproductive tract, from White-American, African-American, and Tanzanian women exhibit intracellular and secreted antiviral activity that protects against heterosexual transmission of HIV-1. These studies are being carried out in the USA and with colleagues in Muhimbili College of Health Sciences (MUCHS) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

He has received numerous awards including a National Institutes of Health Merit Award, He is also the recipient of the Distinguished Investigator Award in Reproductive Immunology by the American Society of reproductive Immunology (ASRI) and has received the Raymond O. Berry Honored Lecturer Award from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.

Dr. Wira is/has been an Advisor to NIH for numerous conferences including: National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development: Conference on Maternal/Fetal placental Interactions in Washington, DC; NIH Microbicide Meeting in Atlanta, Go; Syphilis Conference of NIH in Memphis TN; The Biology of HIV Transmission Think Tank, NIH in Washington, DC; NIH AIDS Women, Girls and HIV Conference in Washington, DC; National Institutes of Health Fertility Regulation and Systemic Hormones in HIV-infected and at-risk Women in Washington, DC; NIH Planning Group for HIV-related research; Woman and Girls Planning Group; and the NIH Plan for HIV-related research; OAR: Microbicides Planning Group. Most recently, Dr. Wira worked with NIH to organize a meeting sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in collaboration with the Dartmouth Medical School, entitled Mucosal Immunity in the male and female reproductive tract and prevention of HIV transmission in Hanover NH.