Board of Councilors
Michael McGuckin, PhD - President | Melbourne, Australia
Mike McGuckin is a NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and is Deputy Director (Research) at at the Mater Research Institute – The University of Queensland within the new Translational Research Institute in Brisbane, where he leads the Inflammatory Disease Biology and Thereapeutics Research Group. Mike is the author of over 150 scientific publications with his research currently focused on mucosal infection, chronic inflammation and cancer in the gastrointestinal tract, and has held 4 patents. He is heavily involved in national and international peer review, and serves on multiple committees and boards for scientific societies, collaborative research centres and charities.
William Agace, PhD - President | Lund, Sweden
Dr. Agace received a B.Sc. (Hons) in Microbiology from Bristol University, UK, in 1989. He then moved to Lund, Sweden (following a Swede-now wife) and obtained a PhD. from Lund University in 1996 in the area of Mucosal Immunology. Dr. Agace’s PhD studies were in the area of urinary tract infections, under the guidance of Dr C. Svanborg, focusing on epithelial cytokine responses to uropathogenic E.coli in murine models and uroepithelial cell lines. During this time Dr. Agace developed an interest in epithelial-immune cell interactions and after completing his PhD decided to move up in the world (anatomically) and joined the laboratory of Dr. C. Parker (Department of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital) to study intestinal intraepithelial lymphocyte (IEL)/epithelial crosstalk. Taking his early interest in chemokines from his time as a PhD student he set about assessing the role of chemokine/chemokine receptors in regulating T cell recruitment to the intestinal mucosa. Such collaborative studies led to the identification of CCR9/CCL25 as a potential mediator of T cell homing to the small intestine. In 1999, Dr. Agace returned to Lund with a project grant from the Crohn’s and Colitis foundation of America (CCFA) that played in instrumental role in his ability to set up his independent group at the Immunology Section at Lund University. Since this time his groups major contribution to the field of mucosal immunology include identification of CCR9 as T cell homing receptor for the small intestine in mice, identification of intestinal CD103+ dendritic cells (DCs) in mouse and humans and demonstration that small intestinal derived DCs are potent in generating ‘small intestinal tropic’ T cells through enhanced production of retinoic acid, demonstration that intestinal CD103+ DCs and not macrophages constitutively migrate to draining mesenteric lymph nodes and play a key role in presenting luminal derived antigen to T cells at this site, and more recently that the intestine contains multiple DC subsets that play key non-redundant roles in intestinal T cell homeostasis in vivo. Major current interests include assessing the role of environment in regulating immune/stromal cell functionality and specialization within the mucosa. His group’s research has resulted in several Nordic awards including the Anders Jahre Young Researcher Award in Biomedicine from the University of Oslo and the Göran Gustafsson Prize in Medicine from the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences. Dr. Agace headed the Immunology section in Lund from 2006-2014 and currently divides his time running research groups at Lund University, Sweden and the Technical University of Denmark. Dr. Agace has served as an associate editor of the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology (2007-2015), European Journal of immunology (2007-2015) and since 2012 acts as deputy editor of Mucosal Immunology. He has served on the international planning committee of ICMI meetings (Vancouver 2013, Berlin 205, MIICS Toronto 2016) and is the main organizer of the 10th EMIG conference, Copenhagen 2016.
Ifor Williams, MD, PhD - Past President | Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Dr. Williams is a Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Emory University, where he heads a research lab devoted to gastrointestinal mucosal immunology with a focus on the differentiation and function of antigen sampling intestinal M cells. He is board-certified in Anatomic Pathology and serves as the Director of the Clinical Immunology Laboratory at Emory University Hospital. He completed his doctoral training (Microbiology and Immunology) and medical training at Emory University, followed by residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Washington University in St. Louis. While at Washington University, he did postdoctoral work in the laboratories of Emil Unanue (Pathology) and Thomas Kupper (Dermatology). In 1992 he moved to Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where he began as an Instructor and was promoted to Assistant Professor in the Division of Dermatology in 1995. While at Harvard, he pursued immunodermatology research focusing on the role of cytokines in inflammatory skin disease. In 1997, he moved to Emory University as an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine with a secondary appointment in the Department of Dermatology. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He was elected to the SMI Board of Councilors in 2011 and has served as the SMI Secretary-Treasurer since 2012.
Jo Viney, PhD - Secretary-Treasurer | Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Jo is Co-Founder and CSO of Pandion Therapeutics, a start-up biotech company focused on drug discovery in autoimmunity, inflammation and transplant. Previously Jo worked at Biogen where she began as VP, Immunology Research and was responsible for building the company’s immunology portfolio before moving on to become SVP, Drug Discovery. Before moving to the East Coast, Jo worked at Genentech, Immunex and Amgen, but she originally hails from the UK where she received her PhD from the University of London.
Jo has maintained longstanding membership with the Society for Mucosal Immunology (SMI) and American Society of Immunologists (AAI). She has served numerous terms on the SMI Board, and was President of SMI from 2011-2013. Together with SMI colleagues, she launched the Mucosal Immunology journal with Nature Publishing Group. In 2015, Jo received the SMI’s Distinguished Service Award.
Throughout her career, Jo has been passionate about workplace inclusiveness, promoting the careers of women and under-represented minorities in science. She is involved with several groups driving this mission, and in 2015 joined the Board of WEST (Women in the Enterprise of Science and Engineering, www.westorg.org) and is currently serving as President. Jo is also a member of the Board of Directors for CaroGen Corp, and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Keystone Symposia.
Allan Mowat, MD, PhD - Immediate Past-President | Glasgow, Scotland
Dr. Allan Mowat has led an independent research group in mucosal immunology since 1983 and is currently Professor of Mucosal Immunology and Assistant Director of the Centre for Immunobiology in the Institute of Infection, Immunology and Inflammation at the University of Glasgow. He has published more than 140 papers on experimental models of intestinal tolerance and immunity, with current work focusing on characterizing the contributions of mucosal dendritic cells and macrophages to local homeostasis and inflammation. He is engaged in a number of collaborative projects around the world, and also has hands on experience of research in a number of labs in Europe and North America, including in industry.
Fernando Chirdro, PhD - Councilor | La Plata, Argentina
Dr. Chirdo received a degree in Biochemistry at the National University of La Plata (Argentina) in 1988. Then he undertook PhD studies in immunology, focusing on immunochemical detection of gliadins and serology in celiac disease, obtaining his PhD in Biochemistry in 1995. During this work, he developed an immunochemical platform to detect gliadins which became the basis of the national screening process for gluten-free products in Argentine, which was then extended to Chile. He took part in national and international commissions to establish the legislation for labelling these products. In 2002, he was nominated as an Executive Member of the European Working Group in Prolamin Analysis and Toxicity. Based on his initial studies of celiac disease, his interest in small intestinal immunity led him to perform postdoctoral work at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, under the supervision of Prof. Allan Mowat during 2002-3. Here he was one of the first people to isolate and characterize intestinal dendritic cells, investigations which contributed to the beginning of the current understanding of the function of these crucial cells and their subsets.
After returning to Argentina, he became in Professor of Immunology at the National University of La Plata in 2006.
Alexandra Corbett, PhD - Counsilor | Melbourne, Australia
Dr. Alexandra Corbett has a long-term interest in immunology and immune-microbe interactions. She completed her B.Sc (First Class Hons, Scholarship) at the University of Melbourne in 1998, and her PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Melbourne, Australia in 2004 (also including a CRC-Vaccine Technology studentship), where she analysed the immune response to antigen targeted to DC subsets. This was followed by two postdoctoral research positions at the University of Western Australia (WA & MG Saw Medical Research Fellow) under the guidance of A/Prof Anthony Scalzo focussed on immune evasion molecules of murine cytomegalovirus and at the Bio21 Institute with A/Prof Anthony Purcell (interrupted by having 2 children), where she developed methods for elution and mass spectrometric analysis of peptides presented by the MHC Class I molecule HLA-B27.
Since joining the Doherty Institute in 2012, Alex's work has focused on Mucosal-associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells, an innate-like population of T cells restricted by the non-polymorphic MHC class I-related protein (MR1). She has made major contributions to recent breakthroughs in the MAIT cell field including the identification of the vitamin B-based antigens that activate MAIT cells, and the development of MR1-tetramer reagents to specifically identify MAIT cells in humans and mice.
Alex is currently an ARC Future Fellow and holds 2 NHMRC Project Grants aiming to understand the range of MR1-bound ligands that can activate or inhibit MAIT cells, and the role of MAIT cells in infection. Her highly collaborative research program seeks to understand the signals that drive MAIT cell function and the contexts in which these cells are protective vs pathogenic in infection and disease, with the ultimate goal of targeting MAIT cells in vaccine or therapeutic strategies.
Heather Wilson, PhD - Councilor | Saskatoon, Canada
Dr. Heather Wilson’s research focuses on understanding neonatal and maternal mucosal immunity using ruminants and pigs as animal models. Unlike rodent models, these large-animal species share similarities with humans regarding long duration of gestation, size at birth, and a well-developed mucosal immune system at birth. The out-bred nature of large animals more closely mimics the situation encountered in the human population, where the population includes low-, high- and non-responders to vaccines/stimuli and/or susceptible and resistant individuals to disease. Her lab has optimized surgical models in large animals including fetal immunization, intra-uterine immunization, and creation of gut-loops (which allow evaluation of mucosal delivery and local response of several distinct vaccine components administered to separate loops in the same animal). She strongly believes that research in large animal mucosal immunology can lead to new breakthroughs in protecting food animals as well as in the understanding of human mucosal immunology. She has been approached by Dr. L. Babiuk to assist in the writing of a chapter highlighting ‘Mucosal Vaccine Development for Veterinary and Aquatic Diseases’ in Mucosal Vaccines: Innovation for Preventing Infectious Diseases, 2nd edition, edited by Dr. H. Kiyono & Dr. D. Pascual (Elsevier).
Two of Dr. Wilson’s most recent research projects are: 1) Determining the mechanism by which maternal cells traverse the gut wall in newborn piglets and how this cell-mediated passive transfer protects against infection in the suckling piglet (NSERC Discovery Grant). Because cross-fostering of piglets between sows is common in pig barns, it will be critical to establish whether piglets can take up cells from their dam or a foster sow. If cells from a foster sow cannot cross the piglet’s gut wall, it may be imperative for the health of the piglet to suckle at least once before cross-fostering occurs. 2) Determining whether intra-uterine immunization can protect against reproductive and respiratory diseases in the pig without negatively impacting farrowing rates (Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency grant). Her research shows that the uterine immune system can trigger antigen-specific immunity rather than mucosal tolerance to vaccine antigens, possibly because the uterus lacks a commensal flora and may be less geared towards development of immune tolerance.
Kiyoshi Takeda, MD, PhD - Councilor | Osaka, Japan
Dr. Takeda graduated from Osaka University School of Medicine in 1992 and conducted his PhD work at Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University focusing on the physiological function of STAT transcription factors, under the supervision of Prof. Shizuo Akira. After receiving the PhD degree in 1998, he became an assistant professor in the same laboratory and worked on the mechanisms for Toll-like receptor-dependent pathogen recognition. He then became a professor at Medical Institute of Bioregulation, Kyushu University in 2003, and then moved to Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka University in 2007. Currently, he is also a professor at WPI Immunology Frontier Research Center, Osaka University. His present research activity is focused on understanding the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), particularly the analysis on how intestinal homeostasis is maintained by mucosal innate immune cells and epithelial cells.
Clare Lloyd, PhD - Councilor | London, United Kingdom
Dr. Lloyd completed BSc and PhD degrees in Immunology at Kings College London, and Postdoctoral fellowships at Guys Hospital London and Harvard Medical School, Boston. She moved to Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge USA as a scientist in the Inflammation Division, where she was involved in the cloning and in vivo characterisation of novel genes involved in Th2 responses. She then moved back to the UK to start a Wellcome Senior Fellowship in Basic Biomedical Sciences in the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College. Dr. Lloyd renewed her Senior Fellowship in 2004, 2009 and 2015. She was awarded a Professorial Chair in Respiratory Immunology in 2006 and took over as Head of Section in 2010, and as Head of Division of Respiratory Sciences in 2015.
Dr. Lloyd’s research interests encompass multiple aspects of mucosal immunology, focussing primarily upon epithelial-immune interactions underlying development and resolution of allergic airway inflammation. She has developed innovative methods of modelling allergen driven inflammation and tissue remodelling in vivo in order to analyse the complex relationships between inflammatory cells and resident stromal cells. She has also developed tools in order to dissect molecular pathways underlying different clinical disease phenotypes, and fostered collaborations with clinical scientists to enable findings in mouse models to be extended to clinical investigations of bronchial biopsy specimens from allergic subjects following allergen challenge. She has a particular interest in early life immunity, using innovative neonatal mouse models and cells from patients with paediatric severe asthma – identifying molecules associated with steroid resistance and early life immune development. These findings impact on lifelong lung health, and have led to a major strategic award to investigate molecular mechanisms underlying wheeze in babies and young children
She is a passionate advocate of support for early career researchers, and has served as an advisor to the Vice Provost (Research) to develop Imperial’s support for this group. Dr. Lloyd was the NHLI Lead for Women (2009-2015) involving promoting and developing careers for women.
Dr. Lloyd has presented at major National and International meetings in the respiratory and immunology fields. She organised the 2014 TransAtlantic airway conference, gave the 2014 Manor House Lecture (in Germany) and organised a Keystone Symposium on Asthma in 2017. She also has served on the international planning committee for previous ICMI meetings (Vancouver 2013), MICS (Toronto 2016) and will co-organise the 2018 EMIG. Finally, she has held key editorial roles including Deputy Editor of Thorax, and is currently an associate editor of Mucosal Immunology, an advisory editor for Journal of Experimental Medicine and is on the scientific advisory board of Science Immunology.
Ivaylo Ivanov, PhD - Counsilor | New York, New York, United States
Dr. Ivanov obtained his MSc in Molecular Biology from Sofia University in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1996, and his PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology in 2004 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
From 2004-2011 Dr. Ivanov was a postdoctoral fellow at New York University School of Medicine, under the mentorship of Dan Littman.
Since 2011 he has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University.
Brian Kelsall, MD - Ex-Officio | Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Dr. Kelsall received his B.A. in human biology from Stanford University in 1982. In 1986, he earned his M.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He did postdoctoral training in internal medicine at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center from 1986 to 1989 and in infectious diseases at the University of Virginia Medical Center from 1989 to 1992. In 1992, Dr. Kelsall came to the National Institutes of Health, completed fellowship training in mucosal immunology in 1996, and became a senior investigator in 2003. His research focuses on the regulation of immune responses in the intestine, in particular the role that unique intestinal dendritic cell and macrophage populations play in the induction of immunity to intestinal viral pathogens and mucosal vaccines and in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease.
Katharina Lahl, PhD - Young Professional Councilor | Frederiksberg, Denmark
Dr. Lahl earned both her diploma and PhD degree in Biology at the Technical University of Munich under supervision of Professor Sparwasser. During that time, she created a BAC transgenic mouse model that allowed for the specific depletion of regulatory T cells. Using these mice (known as DEREG mice), they were amongst the first to show that depletion of regulatory T cells leads to multiorgan autoimmune disease. She then moved on to a postdoctoral fellowship in Professor Butcher’s lab at Stanford, funded initially by the German Research Foundation and later by a fellowship from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. In Eugene’s lab, she started working on the transcriptional regulation of intestinal dendritic cell subsets, as well as their role in the coordination of the immune response towards rotavirus. Dr. Lahl recently was awarded a young investigator award from the Swedish Research Council, as well as a fellowship in medicine by the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation. Intestinal dendritic cell biology and rotavirus are still what she is working on today in her lab in Scandinavia, which is split between the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen and Lund University in Sweden.
Lauren A. Zenewicz, PhD - Councilor | Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
Dr. Lauren A. Zenewicz is an Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She completed her doctoral training in bacterial pathogenesis at the University of Pennsylvania where, under Hao Shen, PhD, she examined how similar virulence factors of Listeria monocotygenes and Bacillus anthracis modulated innate and adaptive immune responses. As a post-doctoral fellow with Richard A. Flavell, Ph.D., F.R.S., in the Department of Immunobiology at Yale University, she began her studies on interleukin-22 (IL-22), an important cytokine in modulating tissue responses during inflammation. Her research revealed both a protective and pathologic role for IL-22 in the inflamed gastrointestinal tract. Her studies also showed that IL-22 has effects on the host microbiota, causing changes in flora composition that can lead to exacerbated colitis. Through her research, Dr. Zenewicz identified that both T cells and innate lymphocytes are an important source of IL-22. Her laboratory is now focused on investigating the role of environmental factors in the regulation of IL-22 expression in T cells and innate lymphocytes.
Jennifer Towne, PhD - Industry-Affiliated Councilor | San Diego, California, USA
Dr. Towne completed her doctoral degree in the Department of Molecular Genetics, Biochemistry, and Microbiology at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine where she studied the role of aquaporins in pulmonary inflammation and edema. She subsequently joined Immunex as a post-doctoral fellow investigating the role of novel IL-1 family members in physiology and pathophysiology. Dr. Towne was hired at Immunex as a full time scientist and worked at Immunex/Amgen for 13 years focusing first on the biology of IL-1 family members, primarily IL-36, IL-17 family members, and IL-23 in the skin, lung and gut. She led or was a key contributor to multiple large and small molecule project teams currently in clinical development for psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For the last several years she was responsible for developing the strategy and leading the IBD discovery team at Amgen. Dr. Towne started at Janssen in November 2014 as Scientific Director, Immunology Discovery, where she was responsible for the IBD discovery efforts on the West coast. Dr. Towne is currently the discovery lead for the IBD disease area stronghold across Janssen where she is responsible for discovery efforts to develop innovative therapeutics for the treatment, prevention and cure of IBD. Dr. Towne is a longstanding member of the International Cytokine and Interferon Society (ICIS) and served as the co-chair of the awards committee and a member of the board from 2011-2016.
Irving Coy Allen, PhD - Young Professional Councilor | Blacksburg, Virginia, USA
Principal Investigator and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology in the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. His current research revolves around defining signaling cascades that are modulated by not only NLRs, but also other unique pattern recognition receptors that significantly impact mucosal inflammation. Over the last 5 years, he has served SMI as a member and the current Chair of the Website Committee.