Conversations with Lipid Leaders: Dr. Jon Lovell

Posted on October 29, 2021

Jon Lovell

The Conversations with Lipid Leaders Interview Series brings forward insights and experience from the communities most influential and upcoming scientists to stay connected to current colleagues and inspire the next generation of Lipid Leaders! Keep reading for our interview with Dr. Jon Lovell!

Tell us a little bit about yourself (current role, background, family, etc.).

I have been faculty at the State University of New York at Buffalo in the Biomedical Engineering Department for nearly 10 years. Time flies when you are having fun! I previously did my PhD at University of Toronto. Of course, my wife and three children are my biggest source of joy and inspiration.

Did you always envision yourself becoming a scientist? If not, what did you want to be when you grew up? Who influenced you to become a scientist?

I was someone who didn’t really know what I wanted to be growing up. I did some internships at software companies during my Bachelor’s degree, and while they were great experiences, I couldn’t envision doing that type of work long term. When I started doing a MS degree in biochemistry it was an instant game-changer, since I just loved being in the lab doing experiments every minute of the day. My MS and PhD supervisors influenced me to become a scientist myself.

What do you consider the greatest breakthrough in vaccine technology in recent years?

I think that one has to go to mRNA vaccines.

What was your inspiration for developing new treatments using nanotechnology?

The inspiration is the possibility of advancing new technologies or approaches, or some level of understanding of them, into improvements for human health. Research always seems to take a path of its own that I enjoy following and seeing where it leads.

Could you briefly explain to our readers how adjuvants work and why it is difficult to point to a single mechanism of action for adjuvants?

Adjuvants are molecules included in vaccines that help stimulate the immune system. While a lot is understood about how they work, there are multiple fundamental mechanisms at play and still a lot remains to be learned.

What have been some recent advances towards precision adjuvants? What might the future of vaccine technology look like if precision adjuvants are developed?

That is a great question. I think there are vast amounts of research and development efforts underway in this regard. For example, I have heard 3M-052 is generating interest as a potent adjuvant. Using chemical biology techniques such as rationally-designed screens to identify potent adjuvants that are Toll like receptor ligands provides new exciting adjuvant candidates. I have also observed numerous companies, including Avanti, working on various analogs and derivatives related to MPLA and QS-21, which are the components of GSK’s AS01 liposome that is one of the more potent human vaccine adjuvants. I think next generation adjuvants that robustly induce antigen specific responses could certainly improve not only prophylactic vaccines, but also immunotherapeutic ones for treating chronic conditions.

What are your hobbies? What do you like to do outside of the lab?

Most of my time outside of work is spent chasing around our 3 kids. If I had more time I would like to try to learn foreign languages, which I enjoy pickup up in bits and pieces.

What was your favorite and least favorite course in school? What was the hardest course for you while you were in school?

In high school, I had a great science teacher so I would say that science class was the most enjoyable. I remember being very challenged in art class.

We would like to thank Dr. Jon Lovell for taking time to catch up with us!

To learn more about his exciting research, click HERE!

Personal Note:

Dr. Lovell used Avanti lipids all throughout his MS and PhD degrees and continues to choose them since setting up his own lab! So, take our word (and Dr. Lovell's), Avanti lipids are the highest purity around!