Associate Professor
+1 925 943-5443
+1 510 450-7910


My laboratory is focused on understanding specific molecular interactions between host and pathogen, in particular between complement Factor H and Neisserial surface proteins. These investigations are directly applicable for developing improved vaccines for prevention of disease caused by the bacteria from the genus Neisseria. These microbes colonize mucous membranes, which can lead to invasive infections including sepsis, meningitis, urethritis and other infections. Our research includes genetic, biochemical and immunological studies of Neisserial surface antigens, including meningococcal Factor H binding protein and Neisserial surface protein A. These proteins are important for virulence because they recruit complement Factor H to the bacterial surface, which enables the bacteria to evade host immunity. Our studies are expected to elucidate mechanisms of pathogenesis and protective antibody function and to lead to next-generation Neisserial vaccines.

Education and Training

Postdoc, 03/1999 Physical Biochemistry, University of California
Ph.D., 06/1995 Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Boston University
A.B., 05/1988 Microbial Genetics, Cornell University


Findlow J, Bayliss CD, Beernink PT, Borrow R, Liberator P, Balmer P. Broad vaccine protection against Neisseria meningitidis using factor H binding protein. Vaccine. 2020 Nov 17; 38(49):7716-7727.
Beernink PT. Effect of complement Factor H on antibody repertoire and protection elicited by meningococcal capsular group B vaccines containing Factor H binding protein. Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2020 03 03; 16(3):703-712.
Sharkey K, Beernink PT, Langley JM, Gantt S, Quach C, Dold C, Liu Q, Galvan M, Granoff DM. Anti-Factor H Antibody Reactivity in Young Adults Vaccinated with a Meningococcal Serogroup B Vaccine Containing Factor H Binding Protein. mSphere. 2019 07 03; 4(4).
Beernink PT, Vianzon V, Lewis LA, Moe GR, Granoff DM. A Meningococcal Outer Membrane Vesicle Vaccine with Overexpressed Mutant FHbp Elicits Higher Protective Antibody Responses in Infant Rhesus Macaques than a Licensed Serogroup B Vaccine. mBio. 2019 06 18; 10(3).
Beernink PT, Ispasanie E, Lewis LA, Ram S, Moe GR, Granoff DM. A Meningococcal Native Outer Membrane Vesicle Vaccine With Attenuated Endotoxin and Overexpressed Factor H Binding Protein Elicits Gonococcal Bactericidal Antibodies. J Infect Dis. 2019 03 15; 219(7):1130-1137.
Lo Passo C, Zippilli L, Angiolillo A, Costa I, Pernice I, Galbo R, Felici F, Beernink PT. Molecular characterization of two sub-family specific monoclonal antibodies to meningococcal Factor H binding protein. Heliyon. 2018 Apr; 4(4):e00591.
López-Sagaseta J, Beernink PT, Bianchi F, Santini L, Frigimelica E, Lucas AH, Pizza M, Bottomley MJ. Crystal structure reveals vaccine elicited bactericidal human antibody targeting a conserved epitope on meningococcal fHbp. Nat Commun. 2018 02 06; 9(1):528.
Endrizzi JA, Beernink PT. Charge neutralization in the active site of the catalytic trimer of aspartate transcarbamoylase promotes diverse structural changes. Protein Sci. 2017 Nov; 26(11):2221-2228.
Malito E, Lo Surdo P, Veggi D, Santini L, Stefek H, Brunelli B, Luzzi E, Bottomley MJ, Beernink PT, Scarselli M. Neisseria meningitidis factor H-binding protein bound to monoclonal antibody JAR5: implications for antibody synergy. Biochem J. 2016 Dec 15; 473(24):4699-4713.
Granoff DM, Giuntini S, Gowans FA, Lujan E, Sharkey K, Beernink PT. Enhanced protective antibody to a mutant meningococcal factor H-binding protein with low-factor H binding. JCI Insight. 2016 Sep 08; 1(14):e88907.
Giuntini S, Granoff DM, Beernink PT, Ihle O, Bratlie D, Michaelsen TE. Human IgG1, IgG3, and IgG3 Hinge-Truncated Mutants Show Different Protection Capabilities against Meningococci Depending on the Target Antigen and Epitope Specificity. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2016 08; 23(8):698-706.
Rossi R, Konar M, Beernink PT. Meningococcal Factor H Binding Protein Vaccine Antigens with Increased Thermal Stability and Decreased Binding of Human Factor H. Infect Immun. 2016 06; 84(6):1735-1742.
Konar M, Pajon R, Beernink PT. A meningococcal vaccine antigen engineered to increase thermal stability and stabilize protective epitopes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Dec 01; 112(48):14823-8.
Giuntini S, Beernink PT, Granoff DM. Effect of complement Factor H on anti-FHbp serum bactericidal antibody responses of infant rhesus macaques boosted with a licensed meningococcal serogroup B vaccine. Vaccine. 2015 Dec 16; 33(51):7168-7175.
Rossi R, Beernink PT, Giuntini S, Granoff DM. Susceptibility of Meningococcal Strains Responsible for Two Serogroup B Outbreaks on U.S. University Campuses to Serum Bactericidal Activity Elicited by the MenB-4C Vaccine. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2015 Dec; 22(12):1227-34.
Konar M, Beernink PT, Granoff DM. A Newly-Identified Polymorphism in Rhesus Macaque Complement Factor H Modulates Binding Affinity for Meningococcal FHbp. PLoS One. 2015; 10(8):e0135996.
Beernink PT, Giuntini S, Costa I, Lucas AH, Granoff DM. Functional Analysis of the Human Antibody Response to Meningococcal Factor H Binding Protein. mBio. 2015 Jun 23; 6(3):e00842.
Konar M, Rossi R, Walter H, Pajon R, Beernink PT. A Mutant Library Approach to Identify Improved Meningococcal Factor H Binding Protein Vaccine Antigens. PLoS One. 2015; 10(6):e0128185.
Granoff DM, Costa I, Konar M, Giuntini S, Van Rompay KK, Beernink PT. Binding of Complement Factor H (FH) Decreases Protective Anti-FH Binding Protein Antibody Responses of Infant Rhesus Macaques Immunized With a Meningococcal Serogroup B Vaccine. J Infect Dis. 2015 Sep 01; 212(5):784-92.
Beernink PT, Shaughnessy J, Stefek H, Ram S, Granoff DM. Heterogeneity in rhesus macaque complement factor H binding to meningococcal factor H binding protein (FHbp) informs selection of primates to assess immunogenicity of FHbp-based vaccines. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2014 Nov; 21(11):1505-11.
Rossi R, Granoff DM, Beernink PT. Meningococcal factor H-binding protein vaccines with decreased binding to human complement factor H have enhanced immunogenicity in human factor H transgenic mice. Vaccine. 2013 Nov 04; 31(46):5451-7.
Granoff DM, Ram S, Beernink PT. Does binding of complement factor H to the meningococcal vaccine antigen, factor H binding protein, decrease protective serum antibody responses? Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2013 Aug; 20(8):1099-107.
Konar M, Granoff DM, Beernink PT. Importance of inhibition of binding of complement factor H for serum bactericidal antibody responses to meningococcal factor H-binding protein vaccines. J Infect Dis. 2013 Aug 15; 208(4):627-36.
Pajon R, Beernink PT, Granoff DM. Design of meningococcal factor H binding protein mutant vaccines that do not bind human complement factor H. Infect Immun. 2012 Aug; 80(8):2667-77.
Beernink PT, Shaughnessy J, Pajon R, Braga EM, Ram S, Granoff DM. The effect of human factor H on immunogenicity of meningococcal native outer membrane vesicle vaccines with over-expressed factor H binding protein. PLoS Pathog. 2012; 8(5):e1002688.
Giuntini S, Beernink PT, Reason DC, Granoff DM. Monoclonal antibodies to meningococcal factor H binding protein with overlapping epitopes and discordant functional activity. PLoS One. 2012; 7(3):e34272.
Beernink PT, Shaughnessy J, Braga EM, Liu Q, Rice PA, Ram S, Granoff DM. A meningococcal factor H binding protein mutant that eliminates factor H binding enhances protective antibody responses to vaccination. J Immunol. 2011 Mar 15; 186(6):3606-14.
Dunphy KY, Beernink PT, Brogioni B, Granoff DM. Effect of factor H-binding protein sequence variation on factor H binding and survival of Neisseria meningitidis in human blood. Infect Immun. 2011 Jan; 79(1):353-9.
Beernink PT, Shaughnessy J, Ram S, Granoff DM. Impaired immunogenicity of a meningococcal factor H-binding protein vaccine engineered to eliminate factor h binding. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2010 Jul; 17(7):1074-8.
Pajon R, Beernink PT, Harrison LH, Granoff DM. Frequency of factor H-binding protein modular groups and susceptibility to cross-reactive bactericidal activity in invasive meningococcal isolates. Vaccine. 2010 Feb 25; 28(9):2122-9.
Beernink PT, Granoff DM. The modular architecture of meningococcal factor H-binding protein. Microbiology (Reading). 2009 Sep; 155(Pt 9):2873-2883.
Beernink PT, Caugant DA, Welsch JA, Koeberling O, Granoff DM. Meningococcal factor H-binding protein variants expressed by epidemic capsular group A, W-135, and X strains from Africa. J Infect Dis. 2009 May 01; 199(9):1360-8.
Beernink PT, LoPasso C, Angiolillo A, Felici F, Granoff D. A region of the N-terminal domain of meningococcal factor H-binding protein that elicits bactericidal antibody across antigenic variant groups. Mol Immunol. 2009 May; 46(8-9):1647-53.
Beernink PT, Welsch JA, Bar-Lev M, Koeberling O, Comanducci M, Granoff DM. Fine antigenic specificity and cooperative bactericidal activity of monoclonal antibodies directed at the meningococcal vaccine candidate factor h-binding protein. Infect Immun. 2008 Sep; 76(9):4232-40.
Beernink PT, Granoff DM. Bactericidal antibody responses induced by meningococcal recombinant chimeric factor H-binding protein vaccines. Infect Immun. 2008 Jun; 76(6):2568-75.
Cosman M, Pesavento JB, Zemla A, Beernink PT, Balhorn R, Barsky D. Identification of a thermo-regulated glutamine-binding protein from Yersinia pestis. Protein Pept Lett. 2008; 15(9):887-94.
Beernink PT, Welsch JA, Harrison LH, Leipus A, Kaplan SL, Granoff DM. Prevalence of factor H-binding protein variants and NadA among meningococcal group B isolates from the United States: implications for the development of a multicomponent group B vaccine. J Infect Dis. 2007 May 15; 195(10):1472-9.
Coleman MA, Beernink PT, Camarero JA, Albala JS. Applications of functional protein microarrays: identifying protein-protein interactions in an array format. Methods Mol Biol. 2007; 385:121-30.
Beernink PT, Leipus A, Granoff DM. Rapid genetic grouping of factor h-binding protein (genome-derived neisserial antigen 1870), a promising group B meningococcal vaccine candidate. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2006 Jul; 13(7):758-63.
Beernink PT, Hwang M, Ramirez M, Murphy MB, Doyle SA, Thelen MP. Specificity of protein interactions mediated by BRCT domains of the XRCC1 DNA repair protein. J Biol Chem. 2005 Aug 26; 280(34):30206-13.
Coleman MA, Lao VH, Segelke BW, Beernink PT. High-throughput, fluorescence-based screening for soluble protein expression. J Proteome Res. 2004 Sep-Oct; 3(5):1024-32.
Coleman MA, Miller KA, Beernink PT, Yoshikawa DM, Albala JS. Identification of chromatin-related protein interactions using protein microarrays. Proteomics. 2003 Nov; 3(11):2101-7.
Tolan DR, Schuler B, Beernink PT, Jaenicke R. Thermodynamic analysis of the dissociation of the aldolase tetramer substituted at one or both of the subunit interfaces. Biol Chem. 2003 Oct-Nov; 384(10-11):1463-71.
Pezza JA, Choi KH, Berardini TZ, Beernink PT, Allen KN, Tolan DR. Spatial clustering of isozyme-specific residues reveals unlikely determinants of isozyme specificity in fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase. J Biol Chem. 2003 May 09; 278(19):17307-13.
Beernink PT, Krupka SS, Lao V, Martin G, Coleman MA. Application of In Vitro Protein Expression to Human Prote. ScientificWorldJournal. 2002; 2:73-74.
Doyle SA, Beernink PT, Koshland DE. Structural basis for a change in substrate specificity: crystal structure of S113E isocitrate dehydrogenase in a complex with isopropylmalate, Mg2+, and NADP. Biochemistry. 2001 Apr 10; 40(14):4234-41.
Beernink PT, Segelke BW, Hadi MZ, Erzberger JP, Wilson DM, Rupp B. Two divalent metal ions in the active site of a new crystal form of human apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease, Ape1: implications for the catalytic mechanism. J Mol Biol. 2001 Apr 06; 307(4):1023-34.
Beernink PT, Yang YR, Graf R, King DS, Shah SS, Schachman HK. Random circular permutation leading to chain disruption within and near alpha helices in the catalytic chains of aspartate transcarbamoylase: effects on assembly, stability, and function. Protein Sci. 2001 Mar; 10(3):528-37.
Endrizzi JA, Beernink PT, Alber T, Schachman HK. Binding of bisubstrate analog promotes large structural changes in the unregulated catalytic trimer of aspartate transcarbamoylase: implications for allosteric regulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 May 09; 97(10):5077-82.
Beernink PT, Endrizzi JA, Alber T, Schachman HK. Assessment of the allosteric mechanism of aspartate transcarbamoylase based on the crystalline structure of the unregulated catalytic subunit. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 May 11; 96(10):5388-93.
Beernink PT, Tolan DR. Disruption of the aldolase A tetramer into catalytically active monomers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 May 28; 93(11):5374-9.
Beernink PT, Tolan DR. Subunit interface mutants of rabbit muscle aldolase form active dimers. Protein Sci. 1994 Sep; 3(9):1383-91.
Beernink PT, Tolan DR. Construction of a high-copy "ATG vector" for expression in Escherichia coli. Protein Expr Purif. 1992 Aug; 3(4):332-6.