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Genoveffa Franchini, M.D.

Portait Photo of Genoveffa Franchini
Vaccine Branch
Head, Animal Models and Retroviral Vaccines Section
Senior Investigator
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 41, Room D804
Bethesda, MD 20892-5065


Dr. Genoveffa Franchini is a hematologist and renowned retrovirologist who has pioneered research on oncogenes and human retroviruses (HTLVs and HIVs). She has made numerous achievements in virology and translational approaches to prevent human diseases caused by retroviruses. Her work has furthered the understanding of HIV and HTLV-1 pathogenesis, leading to the identification and characterization of new viral genes for HIV and HTLV-1 and their functions. Her accomplishments in HIV vaccine development include the pre-clinical that led to the first vaccine trial in 16,000 volunteers in Thailand, that has demonstrated significant, though limited, protection against HIV acquisition. Her basic work in immunological mechanisms of protection furthered the understanding of the efficacy of the currently available smallpox vaccine in primates. She also has pioneered strategies to down-modulate regulators of immune response in HIV-1-infected individuals, using the macaque model of SIV infection.


HTLV-1 causes cancer and neuropathology whereas HIV causes AIDS. We uncovered the mechanisms used by HTLV-1 to inhibit innate and adaptive host responses and that HTLV-1 replication in vivo depends on infection of monocytes that necessitate cleavage of the viral p12 precursor protein, thus providing a novel viral therapeutic target. We engineered vaccines, together with the private sector to prevent HTLV-1 and HIV infection. One of the HIV vaccines, the ALVAC-HIV/gp120, has been the first to demonstrate limited, but significant protection against HIV acquisition in humans. Our studies in macaques mirror the human results providing the opportunity to identify the immunological effector(s) of protection and improve vaccine efficacy against HIV.

This page was last updated on 7/9/2014.