Lecture Title: Structures and functions in Innate Immunity

Hao Wu, PhD, is the Asa and Patricia Springer Professor of Structural Biology at Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Wu laboratory of mechanistic immunology focuses on elucidating cellular and structural regulation in innate immune pathways, in particular the inflammasome pathway. Activation of inflammasomes, IL-1 and IL-18 signaling, and pyroptotic cell death plays an important role in host defense against infection and cancer, whereas excessive inflammation driven by inflammasomes and the cytokine signaling pathways is causal or associated with many inflammation-driven diseases such as cardiovascular conditions and neurodegeneration. Her critical research provides new opportunities for drug targeting by therapeutic intervention of supramolecular complexes in cellular innate immunity. Among other biophysical methods, the Wu lab utilizes: 1) cryo-EM to provide a detailed understanding of molecular complexes which includes a large number of membrane proteins, 2) drug screening and validation of potential therapeutics in immune diseases and cancers, and 3) cellular imaging and other tools to delineate the assembly of supramolecular complexes in cells. She serves on the editorial board of Science and Cell, and her work has been recognized by a number of honors including the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Cancer Immunology, Cancer Research Institute in 2022, AAI-Thermo Fisher Meritorious Career Award, American Association of Immunologists in 2023, and the Gregori Aminoff Prize from the Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2024.