Assistant Professor Department of Laboratory Medicine University of California San Francisco Principal Investigator
Ari Molofsky received a BS in Molecular Biology from the University of Texas in 1999 and completed his MD/PhD at the University of Michigan in 2007. His graduate thesis work explored macrophage recognition and response to intracellular pathogens, including work that helped define how inflammasomes recognize intracellular bacterial flagellin and induce pyroptotic cell death. Dr. Molofsky continued his training at the University of California San Francisco, completing a clinical pathology residency and a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Richard Locksley. His post-doctoral work helped elucidate the role of type 2 allergic immune cells in adipose tissue metabolism, including how eosinophils, group 2 innate lymphoid cells, regulatory T-cells, and the cytokine IL-33 control adipose tissue metabolism and protect against metabolic dysfunction and type 2 diabetes. He established an independent research group at UCSF in 2015 with an appointment in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and affiliations with the UCSF Immunology Program and Diabetes Center.
Dr. Molofsky’s research lab is focused on the impact of tissue-resident lymphocytes in normal tissue development, remodeling, and the initiation of pathology. The Molofsky lab studies how resident lymphocytes such as group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) and regulatory T cells (Treg) are supported at tissue niches, using a combination of advanced microscopy, genetic tools, and transcriptomics. The lab has been studying the cellular sources and regulation of the cytokine IL-33, which potently activates ILC2 and Treg, in systemic metabolic function, allergic lung disease, and neurodevelopment. They are also exploring how resident lymphocytes interact and compete at tissue niches to determine immunologic outcomes. In addition to the Milstein Young Investigator award, Dr. Molofsky is the recipient of the Larry L. Hillblom Young Investigator Award, a career development award from the NIDDK, and a UCSF New Frontiers Research Award.
Assistant Professor Department of Immunology Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine Yokohama City, Japan
Dr. Ban received his Ph.D. in 2012 from the University of Tokyo, Japan under the mentorship of Prof. Tadatsugu Taniguchi. During his Ph.D. course, he studied the innate immune sensing mechanisms of nucleic acids derived from viruses or other pathogens, and contributed to publishing two Nature papers and three Proc Natl Acad Sci USApapers. After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Ban joined the laboratory of Prof. Tomohiko Tamura at the Department of Immunology, Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine, and has been studying the activation mechanism of the IRF transcription factor family, and developing novel therapeutics for autoimmune diseases. He showed in a mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that hyperactivation of IRF5 causes the development of an SLE-like disease, and that the selective suppression of IRF5 is key to the new therapeutics for SLE. His work was published in Immunity in 2016. He recently works on a project for the development of the IRF5 inhibitor as an innovative drug for SLE.
Associate professor Department of Biomedicine Aarhus University Denmark
Christian Kanstrup Holm received his PhD in December 2009 from Faculty of Health Sciences at Aarhus University. Christian completed his postdoc work in the laboratory of professor Søren R. Paludan, also at Aarhus University. This work was focused on new DNA independent mechanism for the activation of the adaptor protein STING by infection with enveloped viruses. Christian started his own research group in December 2014 and is currently focusing on regulatory mechanisms of cellular innate immune responses to infection. His work is based on in vivo models for viral and bacterial infection supported by cellular in vitro work.
The perspective of Christians focus is to exploit built-in regulatory mechanisms of the immune system to dampen immunopathology in infectious as well as in chronic inflammatory diseases.
Associate Professor Department of Immunology Graduate School of Medicine Chiba University, Chiba, JAPAN
Dr. Hirahara graduated from Niigata University school of Medicine in 2001. He was engaged in clinical practice as a physician, specifically in respiratory medicine for more than three years and he started a Ph.D. course supervised by Prof. Toshinori Nakayama in the Department of Immunology at Chiba University in 2004. His project was to study the role of repressor of GATA3, which regulates the expression of Th2-related cytokines and he completed the Ph.D. program in 2008. From 2009 to 2013, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. John J. O’Shea at the Molecular Immunology and Inflammation Branch of the US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. He identified new immunosuppressive mechanisms of a critical immunoregulatory cytokine, Interleukin (IL)-27. He also identified a crucial link between the role of a transcription factor, BACH2 and the immune balance of CD4 T cells.
In 2013, he joined the Department of Immunology at Chiba University as a faculty member and continued working on IL-27 and IL-6. He found that STAT1 contributes to transcriptomic diversity in response to cytokines and that the functional abnormality of STAT1 is involved in the pathogenicity of human primary immunodeficiency. Dr. Hirahara is now mainly carrying out research on the identification of the pathogenic roles of CD4+ T cells in intractable respiratory diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis.
Dr. Hirahara acquired a grant from the JSPS Research Fellowship for Japanese Biomedical and Behavioral Researchers at NIH from January 2012 to March 2013. He also received the 10th Young Investigator Award from Japanese Society for Immunology in 2015.
Young Investigators to Watch for 2018
Here are some of the emerging scientists in the field of interferon and cytokine research:
Dr. Rajsbaum performed his PhD in the laboratory of Anne O’Garra at the MRC-NIMR, London in 2009, and completed his postdoctoral training at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, with Dr Adolfo Garcia-Sastre.