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Ron Germain, M.D., Ph.D.

Ron Germain photoNIH Distinguished Investigator

Chief, Laboratory of Systems Biology


Ronald Germain received his M.D. and Ph.D. in 1976 from Harvard University, the latter for research with B. Benacerraf, recipient of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Since that time, he has investigated basic T-cell immunobiology, first on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and, since 1982, as the Chief, Lymphocyte Biology Section in the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.

Over the years, he and his colleagues have made key contributions to our understanding of Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class II molecule structure?function relationships, the cell biology of antigen processing, and the molecular basis of T cell recognition, especially the role of self-recognition and the organization of signaling networks involved in ligand discrimination. More recently, his laboratory has been focused on the details of T cell-antigen presenting cell interactions and the relationship between immune tissue organization and control of adaptive immunity at both the initiation and effector stages. Experiments at the whole cell, tissue, and organism level are being used to build a more complete picture of the operation of the adaptive immune system, including those utilizing novel dynamic in situ microscopic live animal imaging methods that his laboratory helped pioneer. Efforts are also underway to create computer models of T cell signaling and activation based on these studies. The aim of this work is to create a detailed understanding of how immunity develops and to develop new tools for prediction of how the immune system will respond if perturbed, for example, by a candidate vaccine. The latter studies are being pursued in a new Program in Systems Immunology and Infectious Disease Modeling (PSIIM) that is working on creating and applying the next generation of computer software and research tools for quantitative modeling and simulation of complex biological systems.

Dr. Germain has published more than 300 scholarly research papers and reviews. Among numerous honors, he was elected as an Associate (foreign) member of EMBO (2008), awarded the Landsteiner Medal of the Austrian Society for Allerology and Immunology (2008), selected as a Distinguished Lecturer, American Association of Immunologists, 2006, and given numerous named lectureships at major academic institutions in the US and abroad. He serves as an associate or advisory editor of the J Exp Med, Immunity, J Clinical Investigation, Current Biology, and J Biol and has previously served as Deputy Editor of J Immunol and Editor, Immunity. He helped co-found the Immunology Interest Group and Systems Biology Interest Group at NIH. The Lymphocyte Biology Section he directs in the Laboratory of Immunology has trained dozens of postdoctoral fellows, many of whom now occupy senior academic posts at universities and medical schools around the world and who are internationally recognized investigators in their own right.

Last Updated November 2011

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