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Immunologist Casali to occupy Zachry Distinguished Chair

Posted on Thursday, October 03, 2013 · Volume: XLVI · Issue: 20


Paolo Casali, M.D., has conducted research on the molecular mechanisms used by immune cells called B-lymphocytes (B cells) to produce antibodies.
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Paolo Casali, M.D., has conducted research on the molecular mechanisms used by immune cells called B-lymphocytes (B cells) to produce antibodies.clear graphic

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Contact: Will Sansom, 210-567-2579

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 24, 2013) — Paolo Casali, M.D., an immunologist known for his pioneering studies about the processes that strengthen the body’s ability to fight viruses, bacteria, cancer cells, and tissue or organ damage in autoimmune diseases, will join the UT Health Science Center San Antonio in January. Francisco González-Scarano, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs at the UT Health Science Center, announced the recruitment Sept. 24.

Future chairman of microbiology and immunology
Dr. Casali will be appointed chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine and will occupy the Zachry Foundation Distinguished Chair in Microbiology and Immunology. “I am delighted that Dr. Casali has accepted our offer to join the School of Medicine,” Dr. González said. “He was the top candidate revealed by an extensive national search, and our students will greatly benefit from his training and research program in the field of immunology.”

Distinguished career
Dr. Casali is the Donald Bren Professor of Medicine, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Born in Italy, Dr. Casali received his degree in medicine and surgery (magna cum laude) from the University of Milan, where he then became a resident in internal medicine and obtained a specialty in clinical immunology and allergy as well as microbiology and virology. He pursued postgraduate work in immunology at the Medical School of the University of Geneva, Switzerland, along with assignments as a field officer in Ethiopia by the World Health Organization.

At the University of California, Irvine, Dr. Casali is credited with building the renowned Institute for Immunology and the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded immunology training graduate program. Prior to joining the University of California, Dr. Casali was a tenured professor at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York.

Researcher of molecular mechanisms in the immune system
For the past 25 years, Dr. Casali has conducted pioneering research on the molecular mechanisms used by immune cells called B-lymphocytes (B cells) to produce antibodies. “His groundbreaking work in human B cells and antibodies in the 1980s and ’90s was instrumental in developing the first human monoclonal antibodies that neutralize the rabies virus as well as the creation of a human monoclonal antibody to TNF-α, which is commercially available and used to cure important autoimmune diseases,” Dr. González said. TNF-α is short for tumor necrosis factor-alpha.

National leadership roles
Throughout his career Dr. Casali has served as a member of many NIH review panels and study sections, and he has received many formal acknowledgments of his scientific accomplishments. In 2009, Dr. Casali was elected a fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science in recognition of his achievements in the field of molecular immunology.

Longtime recipient of NIH funding
Since 2002 Dr. Casali has served as editor-in-chief of Autoimmunity, an international peer-reviewed journal that publishes clinical and basic science articles on immunology, genetics, and the molecular biology of immunity and autoimmunity. Dr. Casali’s research has been funded without interruption by the NIH for almost three decades as well as by private foundations. His work has been published in high-profile journals such as Science, Nature Immunology, Immunity, Cell and The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Dr. Casali succeeds Joel Baseman, Ph.D., who is stepping down as chair of the department after more than three decades of distinguished work. Dr. Baseman will remain in his valued role as researcher, teacher and mentor, and as head of the Center for Airway Inflammation Research, Dr. González said.

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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 29,000 graduates. The $765.2 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

 
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