Duke Health Sector Advisory Council

Kevin O. Saunders, PhD

Dr. Kevin O. Saunders graduated from Davidson College in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. At Davidson College, he performed research identifying the genetic basis of infertility. Dr. Saunders completed his doctoral research on CDS+ T cell immunity against HIV-1 infection with Dr. Georgia Tomaras at Duke University in 2010. He subsequently trained as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Ors; Gary Nabel and John Mascola at the National Institutes of Health NIAID Vaccine Research Center.

In 2014, Dr. Saunders joined the faculty at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute as a medical instructor. In this role, he analyzed antibody responses in vaccinated macaques, which led to the identification of glycan-dependent HIV antibodies induced by vaccination. Dr. Saunders was appointed as a non-tenure track Assistant Professor of Surgery and the Director of the Laboratory of Protein Expression in the Duke Human Vaccine Institute in 2015. He successfully transitioned to a tenure-track appointment in 2018, and was later promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure in Surgery in 2022.

In 2024, Dr. Saunders became the Norman L Letvin Professor in Immunology and Infectious Diseases Research in Surgery and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Dr. Saunders serves within the Duke Human Vaccine Institute as the institute’s Associate Director, Director of the Laboratory of Protein Expression, and Faculty Chairperson for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. His current research interests include vaccine and antibody development to combat viral infections. Dr. Saunders has given invited lectures on his research at international conferences including International Society for Vaccines Congress, International AIDS Society, HIVR4P, and IDWeek meetings. Dr. Saunders has appeared on local, national, and international television and radio programs to discuss vaccines. He has authored book chapters and numerous journal articles; holds patents on vaccine design concepts and antiviral antibodies; and has garnered awards such as the 2022 International Society for Vaccines Paper of the Year.