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Alan Aderem, Ph.D.
President; Full Professor, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute
Affiliate Professor, Department of Immunology; Affiliate Faculty, University of Washington; Institute for Systems Biology
Area of Expertise: HIV/AIDS, immunology, systems biology, tuberculosis
Alan Aderem, Ph.D. became President of Seattle BioMed in 2012. Aderem is a biologist, specializing in immunology and cell biology. His particular focus is the innate immune system, the part of the immune system that responds generically to pathogens. His laboratory’s research focuses on diseases afflicting citizens of resource poor countries, including AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and influenza. Aderem is working to integrate systems biology approaches into Seattle BioMed’s research programs in order to accelerate vaccine and drug development.
Aderem co-founded the Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) with Leroy Hood and Ruedi Aebersold in 2000 and served as its Director until 2011. A native of South Africa, Aderem obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Cape Town and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Rockefeller University in New York in the laboratory of Dr. Zanvil Cohn. Aderem rose through the ranks at The Rockefeller University, becoming head of the laboratory of Signal Transduction in 1991. In 1996, he accepted a professorship of Immunology and Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Aderem is an internationally recognized immunologist and cell biologist whose research focus is on the innate immune system — how it recognizes and formulates responses to infectious agents, and how it instructs the adaptive immune system to provide long-lived immunity to the pathogen. His initial studies defined how pattern recognition receptors, in particular the Toll-like receptors, identify bacteria and viruses — in essence, how the immune cell reads the molecular barcode of the infectious agent and, thereby, precisely defines the nature of the threat. This precise recognition triggers a specific, highly regulated response to the pathogen by the host. A pioneer in the field of systems biology, Aderem is currently using these approaches of host-pathogen interaction to define these mechanisms and develop predictive, molecular models of immune and inflammatory responses.
Aderem is also applying the tools of systems biology to the study of diseases that significantly impact global health with an emphasis on the role of the innate immune system in vaccine responses. The Aderem Lab is focused on deciphering the role played by the innate immune response to HIV vaccination on the subsequent development of protective immunity. Systems biology approaches are also used to evaluate vaccine candidates against HIV, Mtb and plasmodium. The Aderem Lab is also studying the host response to the influenza virus. Specifically, the lab's research is focused on identifying mechanisms by which highly-pathogenic viruses can evade and often dysregulate the innate immune system.
The National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provide support for Aderem’s current research.