Jeffrey C. Gildersleeve, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Chemical Biology Laboratory


Building 376, Room 208
Frederick, MD 21702-1201


Research Topics


The goal of our group is to understand how antibodies to carbohydrates are generated, what they do, and how we can use them to improve cancer care. We focus in two main areas:  1) improving access to carbohydrate binding monoclonal antibodies, and 2) understanding the roles of serum anti-glycan antibodies for cancer treatment, especially immunotherapies. To facilitate these studies, we have developed a carbohydrate microarray, or glycan array, that allows high-throughput analysis of antibody binding properties and profiling of serum anti-glycan antibody populations.  The array has over 700 array components, including a diverse collection of glycans, glycopeptides, and natural glycoproteins.  Our array is unique in that we use multivalent neoglycoproteins as our primary array components.  This format allows us to readily translate array results to other applications and affords novel approaches to vary glycan presentation.

Monoclonal Antibodies to Carbohydrates

            Anti-glycan antibodies have significant potential for cancer applications such as diagnostics and therapeutics.  Unfortunately, there are relatively few good carbohydrate binding antibodies available for the community.  The lack of antibodies is a major problem for basic research in the field of glycobiology and limits antibody-based diagnostics and therapeutics.  We have been taking a multipronged approach to improving access to carbohydrate binding antibodies.  First, we have developed a database of glycan binding antibodies and reagent lectins, called Database of Anti-Glycan Reagents or DAGR,  DAGR provides a unique resource where researchers can locate antibodies of interest and find information about those antibodies.  Second, we have screened hundreds of antibodies and lectins on our microarray to better define selectivity with the goal of making it easier to select the optimal antibody for a project.  More recently, we are investigating how the immune system initiates an antibody response to a glycan and how the antibodies evolve during the immune response.  The array allows us to investigate the affinity and selectivity of the initially formed germline antibodies and compare them to the affinity matured antibodies.  Additionally, we have been investigating new strategies to modulate the response to carbohydrate antigens and new strategies to obtain good antibodies with the aid of our microarray.

Antibody Responses to Vaccines and Other Immunotherapies

We have a long-standing interest in understanding the roles of anti-glycan serum antibodies in the treatment of cancer.  We are especially interested in studying antibody responses induced by cancer vaccines and other immunotherapies.  We have evaluated responses by whole cell vaccines (e.g.GVAX Pancreas), poxvirus-based vaccines (e.g. PROSTVAC), and carbohydrate-based cancer vaccines.  These projects are shedding new light on how cancer vaccines and other immunotherapies work and are uncovering new biomarkers for precision medicine. 

Glycan microarray technology

We rely heavily on glycan array technology to study immune responses to carbohydrates, and we continually strive to improve this technology.  First, carbohydrate-protein interactions often involve formation of multivalent complexes.  Therefore, presentation is a key feature of recognition.  We have developed several new approaches to vary carbohydrate presentation on the surface of the array, including methods to vary glycan density and neoglycoprotein density.  Second, we use synthetic organic chemistry to obtain a diverse set of tumor-associated carbohydrates and glycopeptides to populate our array.

Collaborations and Carbohydrate Microarray Screening

We are frequently asked to screen lectins, antibodies, and other entities on our array.  Although we are not a core facility and do not provide screening services per se, we are happy to collaborate on many projects, especially those related to cancer.  Please contact Jeff Gildersleeve for more details.  


Jeff Gildersleeve obtained his B.S. degree in biology in 1993 from the University of California at San Diego.  He obtained his Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry at Princeton University under the guidance of Professor Dan Kahne, and completed postdoctoral training with Professor Peter Schultz at The Scripps Research Institute. He began his independent career at the National Cancer Institute in 2003 and is currently a Senior Investigator in the Chemical Biology Laboratory.  The Gildersleeve group uses chemical approaches and glycan microarray technology to study the roles of anti-carbohydrate immune responses in the development, progression, and treatment of cancer and HIV.  Dr. Gildersleeve is a recipient of the 2006 NCI Director’s Innovation Award and the 2011 David Y. Gin New Investigator Award from the Division of Carbohydrate Chemistry of the American Chemical Society.  He also serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of ACS Central Science, the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Editorial Board of Cell Chemical Biology and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Canadian Glycomics Network.

Selected Publications

  1. Muthana SM, Gulley JL, Hodge JW, Schlom J, Gildersleeve JC. ABO blood type correlates with survival on prostate cancer vaccine therapy. Oncotarget. 2015;6(31):32244-56.

  2. Campbell CT, Gulley JL, Oyelaran O, Hodge JW, Schlom J, Gildersleeve JC. Humoral response to a viral glycan correlates with survival on PROSTVAC-VF. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111(17):E1749-58.

  3. Park S, Gildersleeve JC, Blixt O, Shin I. Carbohydrate microarrays. Chem Soc Rev. 2013;42(10):4310-26.

  4. Campbell CT, Gulley JL, Oyelaran O, Hodge JW, Schlom J, Gildersleeve JC. Serum antibodies to blood group A predict survival on PROSTVAC-VF. Clin Cancer Res. 2013;19(5):1290-9.

  5. Zhang Y, Muthana SM, Farnsworth D, Ludek O, Adams K, Barchi JJ Jr, Gildersleeve JC. Enhanced epimerization of glycosylated amino acids during solid-phase peptide synthesis. J Am Chem Soc. 2012;134(14):6316-25.

This page was last updated on June 18th, 2020