Michaela Gack

Lecture Title: Regulatory Mechanisms of Virus Infection and Immunity

Dr. Gack is the Arthur and Marylin Levitt Endowed Chair and Scientific Director of the Cleveland Clinic Florida Research and Innovation Center. She did her PhD training in virology at Harvard Medical School as part of a collaborative graduate program between Harvard and the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. Before joining Cleveland Clinic in 2020, she held faculty positions at Harvard University and The University of Chicago.

Dr. Gack’s research focuses on understanding how the intricate interplay between viruses and the human innate immune response impacts the outcome of viral infection. Her lab has spearheaded the efforts to define the molecular mechanisms of RIG-I-like receptor (RLR) activation through post-translational modifications and host modifying enzymes. Her group also discovered several novel RLR-evasion strategies of emerging RNA viruses (e.g., dengue, Zika and influenza viruses). Recently, her lab discovered that RLR-mediated immunity is triggered by certain host cellular immunostimulatory RNAs (i.e., 5S ribosomal pseudogene transcripts) that are mislocalized and unmasked due to virus-mediated depletion of their RNA-binding proteins.

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, 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, and in 2021 she received an NIH Director’s PIONEER Award.