Lecture Title: The intersection of innate immune receptors and adaptive immunity
Jenny Ting is a molecular immunologist and a pioneer in innate immunity. Her research is distinguished by the breadth of her studies which include innate immunity, autoimmunity, neuroinflammation, cancer immunology, infectious diseases, and the microbiota. Her group performed pioneering work in the discovery of MHC-II expressing brain glial cells and the importance of TNF family members in neuroinflammation and repair. She is the first to define MHC-II promoters in myeloid cells, B and T cells and made seminal discoveries in the study of the master MHC-II transactivator, CIITA. Based on the structure of CIITA, her group first discovered the human NLR gene family and uncovered their roles in transcriptional activation, cytokine production, programmed cell death and autophagy. She discovered the roles of inflammasome proteins in the myeloid population in influenza infection, neuroinflammation, saturated fatty acid induced metabolic diseases, colitis, and colon cancer. In addition to the inflammasome NLRs, she is the first to identify NLRs that serve as negative regulators of inflammatory and cell signaling pathways such as NFkB, MAPK and STAT and the first to identify NLRs that intercept the RNA/DNA sensing pathway and to demonstrate DNA binding by an NLR protein. Finally, she has discovered important roles of multiple innate immune receptors in immunometabolism, most unexpectedly in T cells to directly affect adaptive immunity. More recently, her work has shown the importance of innate immune receptors in regulating B cells, including B regulatory cells. Furthermore, she has developed technology to deliver innate immune activators as superior adjuvants to dendritic cells and macrophages for vaccines against cancer and viruses. She has published over 350 papers and is listed by Thomas Reuters/Clarivate as a Highly Cited Researchers from 2015 until present. Dr. Ting has extensive training experience and trained over 100 postdoctoral fellows/physician scientists/pre-doctoral students. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Academia Sinica.