Dr. Michaela Gack
Dr. Gack did her Ph.D. studies in virology at Harvard Medical School as part of the collaborative graduate training program between Harvard University and the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. During her Ph.D. studies, she discovered that a TRIM molecule – TRIM25 – modulates innate immune responses through catalysis of non-degradative ‘atypical’ Lys63-linked ubiquitination of the pathogen sensor RIG-I. Her postdoctoral studies on immune evasion of influenza virus were conducted at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In 2011, she was appointed Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, where she was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. Dr. Gack joined the Biological Sciences Division faculty at the University of Chicago in 2015, where she was promoted to Professor in 2018. Since December 2018, Dr. Gack has been the Chair of the Committee on Microbiology at UChicago.
Dr. Gack’s research focuses on understanding how the intricate interplay between viruses and the host’s immune system impacts the outcome of viral infection and disease. Understanding host-virus interactions at a molecular level is an essential step in developing safe and effective antivirals and vaccines. A long-term goal of her research is to identify the strategies employed by viral pathogens – influenza virus, flaviviruses, and several tumor viruses – to escape cell-intrinsic immune responses. On the other hand, she is identifying and functionally characterizing novel host factors that play important roles in the antiviral immune defense. Her laboratory uses an integrative approach that combines proteomics and RNAi screens with molecular, biochemical, and cell-biological approaches as well as reverse genetics systems for the generation of recombinant mutant viruses.
For her academic achievements in the fields of virology and innate immunity, Dr. Gack received several awards including the GE & Science Prize for Young Life Scientists, the Robert Koch Postdoctoral Prize 2009, the Junior Investigator Award 2013 from the European Society for Virology, and the Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award 2013 from the American Society for Virology. In 2014, she received the Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award of the American Society for Microbiology, and she has also been selected twice on Germany’s list of “Top 40 under 40” scientists. In 2017, she was awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. Dr. Gack has continuously served on National Institutes of Health study sections and is currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Virology.