Faculty Directory

Paul Spearman, MD

Paul Spearman, MD headshot

Director, Infectious Diseases
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
3333 Burnet Avenue
Cincinnati, Ohio 45229-3026

EMAIL: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
PHONE: 513-636-4509



Paul Spearman, MD is the Albert B. Sabin professor and director of Infectious Diseases at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. His laboratory studies fundamental aspects of HIV biology and develops new vaccines for human pathogens. HIV assembly processes are a major focus of the laboratory, including the trafficking of the HIV envelope glycoprotein and its interaction with essential host factors. A related project studies the role of tetherin in restricting HIV replication, and is defining how the viral protein Vpu counteracts this important host restriction factor. A novel mucosal HIV vaccine based on parainfluenza virus type 5 (PIV5) priming and virus-like particle boosting is under evaluation in macaque models. Dr. Spearman and his colleagues are engaged in the design and performance of clinical trials for new vaccines in adults and children, with a special interest in employing cutting-edge technologies to define innate and adaptive immune responses to vaccines.

Before moving to Cincinnati, Dr. Spearman was professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University, and chief research officer for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. While there he also served as co-director of the Emory Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU). Dr. Spearman currently serves on the Board of Scientific Counselors for NCI, frequently serves on study sections for NIAID, and is president-elect of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS). Beyond his research interests, Dr. Spearman is a pediatric ID clinician and enjoys caring for children and mentoring future leaders in Infectious Diseases.


The Spearman laboratory focuses on HIV assembly, HIV pathogenesis, and immune responses relevant to HIV vaccine development. The HIV Gag protein forms the shell of the developing virion, and must traffic to its site of assembly through interactions with specific cellular pathways. Endosomal trafficking plays a prominent role in HIV assembly. We have recently identified the pathway that is responsible for trafficking of the HIV envelope (Env) protein to the particle assembly site, and are defining in detail this Rab-related trafficking step. As part of our work on assembly, we are focused on understanding how HIV particles assemble in human macrophages, where a unique intracellular compartment called the virus-containing compartment or VCC appears to collect mature particles and retain them. A second project in the laboratory is defining how cells combat HIV through a protein called tetherin. Tetherin catches viral particles at the very latest stage of the lifecycle-just after budding-and prevents them from infecting the next cell. HIV overcomes this through the action of the viral Vpu protein. Our lab is identifying the trafficking pathways utilized by tetherin and Vpu in order to comprehensively understand this viral restriction factor and its inhibition by Vpu. The Spearman laboratory also is developing virus-like particles as a practical and attractive immunogen to use in combination with live virus vaccines for development of neutralizing antibodies against HIV.


MD: University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, TX, 1986.

Residency: Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 1986-1990.

Fellowship: Infectious Diseases, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 1990-1993.

Research Center(s)