David AuCoin, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
David AuCoin

Contact Information


  • Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, 2002
  • M.S., Biology, University of Nevada, Reno, 1999
  • B.S., Exercise Science, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1993


  • 2002-2003 Postdoctoral Fellow - University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2003-2005 Postdoctoral Fellow - Stanford University
  • 2005-Present Director, Hybridoma Laboratory, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2007-2013 Research Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2013-present Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Co-Founder and CSO, DxDiscovery, Reno, Nevada

Research Interests

Dr. AuCoin has spent nearly 15 years studying a number of pathogenic microbes. Graduate and postdoctoral studies focused on viral replication and egress of Kaposi’s sarcoma associated herpesvirus and human cytomegalovirus. Recently, research in the AuCoin laboratory has focused on developing antibody-based diagnostics and therapeutics.

Two NIH/NIAID funded projects are currently active within the AuCoin laboratory. Two additional grants were recently secured through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Naval Research Laboratory (DoD). Many of these projects rely on the identification of secreted or circulating microbial antigens that can be targeted for immunodiagnosis of disease. The AuCoin laboratory developed a novel platform technology termed “In vivo Microbial Antigen Discovery” or InMAD to identify such antigens. InMAD is currently identifying candidate diagnostic antigens secreted during infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis), Aspergillus fumigatus (invasive aspergillosis) and Francisella tularensis (tularemia). The capsular polysaccharide (CPS) produced by B. pseudomallei was identified by InMAD as an encouraging diagnostic target.

One of the research grants is a partnership with InBios International (Seattle, WA). Phase I STTR funding has resulted in the production of the Active Melioidosis Detect™ (AMD) Diagnostic test that is currently undergoing preclinical testing in endemic areas of Thailand and Australia. The CDC, DHS and DoD are currently evaluating this test for use as a rapid point of care diagnostic.

Antibody engineering is another focus of the AuCoin laboratory. Phage display is currently being used to improve affinity of antibodies specific to the capsules of Bacillus anthracis and B. pseudomallei. This has resulted in antibodies that achieve an improved sensitivity in diagnostic assays and possibly increased efficacy when used therapeutically in animal models of disease. In addition, the laboratory is interested in how antibody heavy chain constant domains contribute to antibody affinity. Antibodies with identical variable regions but different constant domains vary substantially in their affinity. The laboratory has engineering recombinant antibodies with identical variable regions and different constant domains to support this hypothesis. The goal is to incorporate a constant domain within a recombinant antibody that will enhance affinity resulting in an improved diagnostic or therapeutic efficacy.

Courses Taught

Human Virology MICR 425/625

Additional Course Material


Selected Publications

  • Kozel, T.R., P. Thorkildson, S. Brandt, W.H. Welch, J.A. Lovchik, D. AuCoin, J. Vilai, and C.R. Lyons. 2007. Protective and immunochemical activities of monoclonal antibodies reactive with the Bacillus anthracis polypeptide capsule. Infect. Immun. 75:152-163. PMC1828423.
  • AuCoin, D.P., M.D. Sutherland, A.L. Percival, C.R. Lyons, J.A. Lovchik, and T. R. Kozel. 2009. Rapid Detection of the Poly-γ-D-Glutamic Acid Capsular Antigen of Bacillus anthracis by Latex Agglutination. Diagn. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 64(2):229-232. PMC2741395.
  • Tandon, R., AuCoin, D.P., and E.S. Mocarski. 2009. Human cytomegalovirus exploits ESCRT machinery in the process of virion maturation. J Virol. 2009 Oct;83(20):10797-807. PMC2753131.
  • AuCoin, D.P., R. Crump, P. Thorkildson, D. Nuti, J. Lipuma and T.R. Kozel. 2010. Identification of Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) bacteria with a lipopolysaccharide specific monoclonal antibody. J Med Microbiol. Jan; 59(Pt 1):41-7. PMC2887558.
  • Nuti D.E., R.B. Crump, F. Dwi Handayani, N. Chantratita, S.J. Peacock, R. Bowen, P.L. Felgner, D.H. Davies, T. Wu, C.R. Lyons, P.J. Brett, M.N. Burtnick, T.R. Kozel, D.P. AuCoin. Identification of circulating bacterial antigens by in vivo microbial antigen discovery. mBio. 2011 Aug 16;2(4). pii: e00136-11. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00136-11. Editor’s Pick. PMID:21871517.
  • Nieves, W, S. Asakrah, O. Qazi, K.A. Brown, J. Kurtz, D.P. AuCoin, J.B. McLachlan, C.J. Roy, L.A. Morici. A naturally derived outer-membrane vesicle vaccine protects against lethal pulmonary Burkholderia pseudomallei infection. Vaccine. 2011 Aug 24. Epub ahead of print. PMID:21871517.
  • AuCoin, D.P. In vivo Microbial Antigen Discovery: finding the “needle in the haystack”. Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2012 Apr;12(3):219-21. PMID: 22468810.
  • AuCoin, D.P., D.E. Reed, N.L. Marlenee, R.A. Bowen, P. Thorkildson, B.M. Judy, A.G. Torres, T. R. Kozel. Polysaccharide Specific Monoclonal Antibodies Provide Passive Protection against Intranasal Challenge with Burkholderia pseudomallei. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35386. PMID: 22530013.
  • Chaves, S. J., K. Schegg, T. R. Kozel, and D. P. AuCoin. In vivo Microbial Antigen Discovery (InMAD) to identify diagnostic proteins and polysaccharides that are circulating during microbial infections. Methods Mol. Biol. 2013.
  • Hovenden, M., M. Hubbard, D. P. AuCoin, P. Thorkildson, D. Reed, W. H. Welch, C. R. Lyons, J. Lovechik, T. R. Kozel. IgG subclass and heavy chain domains contribute to binding and protection by mAbs to the poly γ-D-glutamic acid capsular antigen of Bacillus anthracis. PLoS Pathog. 2013 Apr;9(4). PMID: 23637599.
  • Hubbard MA, Thorkildson P, Kozel TR, and D. P. AuCoin. Constant domains influence binding of mouse-human chimeric antibodies to the capsular polypeptide of Bacillus anthracis. Virulence. 2013 Jul 17;4(6). PMID: 23863605.
  • Marchetti R, Canales A, Lanzetta R, Nilsson I, Vogel C, Reed D.E., AuCoin D.P., Jiménez-Barbero J, Molinaro A, and A. Silipo. Unraveling the Interaction between the LPS O-Antigen of Burkholderia anthina and the 5D8 Monoclonal Antibody by Using a Multidisciplinary Chemical Approach, with Synthesis, NMR, and Molecular Modeling Methods. Chembiochem. 2013 Jul 22. PMID: 23873779.
  • Houghton, R.L., Reed, D.E., Hubbard, M.A., Dillon, M.J., Chen, H, Currie, B.J., Mayo, M., Sarovich, D., Theobald, V., Limmathurotsakul, D., Wongsuvan, G., Chantratita, N., Peacock, S.J., Hoffmaster, A.R., Duval, B, Brett, P.J., Burtnick, M.N., and D. P. AuCoin. Development of a Prototype Lateral Flow Immunoassay (LFI) for the Rapid Diagnosis of Melioidosis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2014. In press.