Daniel Kulp, Ph.D.

Daniel Kulp, Ph.D.


The Kulp Laboratory



Associate Professor, Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center

About the Scientist

Kulp has more than 15 years of experience developing molecular design software and leading protein engineering projects. He joined Wistar from The Scripps Research Institute and International AIDS Vaccine Initiative where he was a principal scientist.

Kulp received a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Molecular Biology & Biochemistry from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, followed by a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed postdoctoral training in structure-based and experimental protein engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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The Kulp Laboratory

The Kulp laboratory focuses on rational vaccine and therapeutic antibody design for a variety of priority infectious diseases (e.g. Lassa Virus, HIV, Influenza) and cancer targets. The ultimate test of the lab's understanding of B cell immune responses is to design new immunogens that drive predictable antibody maturation. To that end, the lab is interested in the development and application of protein engineering methods for modifying antigen/cell receptor interfaces, antigen/antibody interfaces, antigen surface properties and core stabilization.

Staff Listing


Daniel Kulp, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Jinwei Huang

PhD Graduate Students

Michaela Helble
Kylie Konrath
Rumi Habib
Niklas Laegner
Shahlo Solieva
Yuanhan Wu

MS Graduate Student

Sarah Kim

Research Assistants

Kelly Bayruns
Amber Kim
Joyce Park
Madison McCanna

Research Apprentice

Alex Dalton

Lab Alumni

Susanne Walker - Merck
Neethu Chokkalingkam – Ocugen
Sinja Kriete – Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (DO student)
Nicholas Shupin - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (MD student)
Alana Hyunh – University of Rochester (PhD student)

Selected Publications
Cancer immunotherapy has demonstrated great promise with several checkpoint inhibitors being approved as the first-line therapy for some types of cancer, and new engineered cytokines such as Neo2/15 now being evaluated in many studies. In this work, we designed antibody-cytokine chimera (ACC) scaffolding cytokine mimetics on a full-length tumor-specific antibody. We characterized the pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) properties of first-generation ACC TA99-Neo2/15, which synergized...
Nanoparticle vaccines are a diverse category of vaccines for the prophylaxis or treatment of various diseases. Several strategies have been employed for their optimization, especially to enhance vaccine immunogenicity and generate potent B-cell responses. Two major modalities utilized for particulate antigen vaccines include using nanoscale structures for antigen delivery and nanoparticles that are themselves vaccines due to antigen display or scaffolding-the latter of which we will define as...
Despite advances in ovarian cancer (OC) therapy, recurrent OC remains a poor-prognosis disease. Because of the close interaction between OC cells and the tumor microenvironment (TME), it is important to develop strategies that target tumor cells and engage components of the TME. A major obstacle in the development of OC therapies is the identification of targets with expression limited to tumor surface to avoid off-target interactions. The follicle-stimulating hormone receptor (FSHR) has...
The global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has claimed more than 5 million lives. Emerging variants of concern (VOCs) continually challenge viral control. Directing vaccine-induced humoral and cell-mediated responses to mucosal surfaces may enhance vaccine efficacy. Here we investigate the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of optimized synthetic DNA plasmids encoding wild-type severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein (pS) co-formulated with the...
Biomolecular structure drives function, and computational capabilities have progressed such that the prediction and computational design of biomolecular structures is increasingly feasible. Because computational biophysics attracts students from many different backgrounds and with different levels of resources, teaching the subject can be challenging. One strategy to teach diverse learners is with interactive multimedia material that promotes self-paced, active learning. We have created a...
HIV Envelope (Env) is the main vaccine target for induction of neutralizing antibodies. Stabilizing Env into native-like trimer (NLT) conformations is required for recombinant protein immunogens to induce autologous neutralizing antibodies(nAbs) against difficult to neutralize HIV strains (tier-2) in rabbits and non-human primates. Immunizations of mice with NLTs have generally failed to induce tier-2 nAbs. Here, we show that DNA-encoded NLTs fold properly in vivo and induce autologous tier-2...
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines may target epitopes that reduce durability or increase the potential for escape from vaccine-induced immunity. Using synthetic vaccinology, we have developed rationally immune-focused SARS-CoV-2 Spike-based vaccines. Glycans can be employed to alter antibody responses to infection and vaccines. Utilizing computational modeling and in vitro screening, we have incorporated glycans into the receptor-binding domain (RBD) and...
DNA vaccines are considered as a third-generation vaccination approach in which antigenic materials are encoded as DNA plasmids for direct in vivo production to elicit adaptive immunity. As compared to other platforms, DNA vaccination is considered to have a strong safety profile, as DNA plasmids neither replicate nor elicit vector-directed immune responses in hosts. While earlier work found the immune responses induced by DNA vaccines to be sub-optimal in larger mammals and humans, recent...
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has had a dramatic global impact on public health and social and economic infrastructures. Here, we assess the immunogenicity and anamnestic protective efficacy in rhesus macaques of an intradermal (i.d.)-delivered SARS-CoV-2 spike DNA vaccine, INO-4800, currently being evaluated in clinical trials. Vaccination with INO-4800 induced T cell responses and induced spike antigen and RBD binding antibodies with ADCP and ADCD...
Cytolytic T cells (CTL) play a pivotal role in surveillance against tumors. Induction of CTL responses by vaccination may be challenging, as it requires direct transduction of target cells or special adjuvants to promote cross-presentation. Here, we observed induction of robust CTL responses through electroporation-facilitated, DNA-launched nanoparticle vaccination (DLnano-vaccines). Electroporation was observed to mediate transient tissue apoptosis and macrophage infiltration, which were deemed...
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a global pandemic of COVID-19, resulting in cases of mild to severe respiratory distress and significant mortality. The global outbreak of this novel coronavirus has now infected >20 million people worldwide, with >5 million cases in the United States (11 August 2020). The development of diagnostic and research tools to determine infection and vaccine efficacy is critically needed. We have developed multiple serologic assays...
CD4+ T cells play an important role in the maturation of the antibody responses. Conjugation of identified CD4+ T cell helper epitope to the target antigen has been developed as a strategy to enhance vaccine-induced humoral immunity. In this work, we reported the identification of a novel HLA-IAb helper epitope LS-3 from Aquifex aeolicus. In silico analysis predicted this epitope to have high binding affinity to common human HLA alleles and have complementary binding coverage to the established...
The coronavirus family member, SARS-CoV-2 has been identified as the causal agent for the pandemic viral pneumonia disease, COVID-19. At this time, no vaccine is available to control further dissemination of the disease. We have previously engineered a synthetic DNA vaccine targeting the MERS coronavirus Spike (S) protein, the major surface antigen of coronaviruses, which is currently in clinical study. Here we build on this prior experience to generate a synthetic DNA-based vaccine candidate...
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Nanotechnologies are considered to be of growing importance to the vaccine field. Through decoration of immunogens on multivalent nanoparticles, designed nanovaccines can elicit improved humoral immunity. However, significant practical and monetary challenges in large-scale production of nanovaccines have impeded their widespread clinical translation. Here, an alternative approach is illustrated integrating computational protein modeling and adaptive electroporation-mediated synthetic DNA...
Adjuvants are central to the efficacy of subunit vaccines. Aluminum hydroxide (alum) is the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant, yet its adjuvanticity is often weak and mechanisms of triggering antibody responses remain poorly understood. We demonstrate that site-specific modification of immunogens with short peptides composed of repeating phosphoserine (pSer) residues enhances binding to alum and prolongs immunogen bioavailability. The pSer-modified immunogens formulated in alum elicited...
Interventions to prevent HIV-1 infection and alternative tools in HIV cure therapy remain pressing goals. Recently, numerous broadly neutralizing HIV-1 monoclonal antibodies (bNAbs) have been developed that possess the characteristics necessary for potential prophylactic or therapeutic approaches. However, formulation complexities, especially for multiantibody deliveries, long infusion times, and production issues could limit the use of these bNAbs when deployed, globally affecting their...
Vaccine induction of broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) to HIV remains a major challenge. Germline-targeting immunogens hold promise for initiating the induction of certain bnAb classes; yet for most bnAbs, a strong dependence on antibody heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3 (HCDR3) is a major barrier. Exploiting ultradeep human antibody sequencing data, we identified a diverse set of potential antibody precursors for a bnAb with dominant HCDR3 contacts. We then developed HIV...
Sustained exposure of lymphoid tissues to vaccine antigens promotes humoral immunity, but traditional bolus immunizations lead to rapid antigen clearance. We describe a technology to tailor vaccine kinetics in a needle-free platform translatable to human immunization. Solid pyramidal microneedle (MN) arrays were fabricated with silk fibroin protein tips encapsulating a stabilized HIV envelope trimer immunogen and adjuvant, supported on a dissolving polymer base. Upon brief skin application,...

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