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Research Highlights

Strengthening Einstein's Efforts in Human Immunology

Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., already wears many hats at Einstein, and he’s about to don another.

Dr. Casadevall is professor and chair of the department of microbiology & immunology, professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and the Leo and Julia Forchheimer Chair in Microbiology and Immunology at Einstein, and attending physician in medicine (infectious disease) at Montefiore, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein. He’ll take on an additional leadership role as director of Einstein’s soon-to-be-created Center for Immunological Sciences.

annual report
This article originally appeared in Einstein's 2012-2013 Annual Report.
A key goal of the new center is to enhance understanding of basic immunology and to translate that knowledge into treatments for immune disorders. "Immunology is central to almost all human diseases," says Dr. Casadevall. "In fact, you could say that most human diseases occur because there is either too much or too little inflammation— and immune responses are largely responsible for inflammation."

"You could say that most human diseases occur because there is either too much or too little inflammation."

Right now, he notes, "immunologists at Einstein are spread over many departments. Because of immunology’s central role in human diseases, we’re very interested in forming a more cohesive group. This new center will help coordinate our research efforts in immunology and make them much more fruitful."

As the center’s director, Dr. Casadevall will recruit new faculty who specialize in human immunology, vaccine development and the human microbiome (the estimated 100 trillion microbes that live on and in humans and influence health and disease). "Once we beef up our presence in human immunology," he says, "we can form research partnerships with scientists in other areas at Einstein such as genomics and diabetes—which is increasingly viewed as an immunological disease."

Since joining Einstein as a postdoctoral fellow in 1989, Dr. Casadevall has distinguished himself as an infectious-disease researcher, mentor and lecturer:

  • He is a nationally recognized expert on disease-causing fungi, focusing on Cryptococcus neoformans, a pathogen that can cause fatal infections in people with weakened immune systems.
  • He is known for mentoring underrepresented minorities in his lab and recently recruited five outstanding junior investigators who have obtained NIH funding.
  • He co-chairs the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity.
  • He has taken a leading role in calling attention to serious problems with how science is practiced. In fact — donning yet one more hat — Dr. Casadevall will soon help create a Center for the Advancement of Science at Einstein, which will use rigorous methods to develop better ways to train scientists and improve their productivity.

Posted on: Monday, April 22, 2013