Vaccine Design and Delivery Research Group

Welcome to the Vaccine Design and Delivery Research Group website! As a part of the Center for Translational Medicine at the University of Montana, we advance bench-to-bedside vaccines and immunotherapeutics to combat virulent disease. Led by David Burkhart, our team utilizes nanoparticle technology, bioconjugation, and formulation science to develop safe and effective vaccine technology.

Our group

Our formulation group is part of a larger world-class research team of over 50 scientists, which includes immunologists and medicinal chemists. This multi-disciplinary approach allows us to conduct vaccine/immunotherapy R&D as one cohesive unit. Our scientists come from a wide variety of backgrounds (organic chemistry, immunology, pharmaceuticals, microbiology, toxicology, chemical engineering, etc.) and range in experience from undergraduate interns, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers to senior scientists with over 20 years experience in vaccine/adjuvant R&D. Our research focuses primarily on new vaccine adjuvant technology to advance the field in the fight against influenza, bordetella pertussis, mycobacterium tuberculosis, and gonorrhea. This adjuvant technology also has tremendous application in the fields of allergy/autoimmunity and cancer immunotherapy. Visit our Research page for more details on our active projects.

Our group actively collaborates with some of the best adjuvant/vaccine R&D teams in the country, including Oregon Health Sciences University, University of California San Diego, Harvard/Boston Children’s Hospital, University of Washington, Duke University, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Stanford University. These collaborations provide access to excellent opportunities for our students and postdoctoral scientists in their career development.

Our team at work in the lab

Our lab

Our formulations lab is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation essential to developing nanoparticle technology for vaccine delivery. Our instrumental capabilities include UPLC, HPLC, DLS, MALDI-TOF MS, ESI-TOF MS, NMR, CD, high pressure homogenization, high shear mixing, sonication, extrusion, speed vacuuming, benchtop lyophilization, aseptic processing, and analytical detection (PDA, CAD, and fluorescence, etc.).

Pictures of laboratory test tubes with analytes


Nestled in an urban forest, the University of Montana is minutes away from mountains and rivers without end. Our city is a hub for hiking, fishing, skiing, climbing, kayaking, rafting, hunting, mountain biking, etc. Our group and location provide an unparalleled opportunity to do world class vaccine research in a setting with a very high quality of life.

Picture of the city of Missoula, Montana