Chen Dong, PhD
Professor and Director of the Institute for Immunology and Dean of the School of Medicine, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

The ICIS Awards Committee have chosen Chen Dong, PhD as the recipient of the 2019 BioLegend William E Paul Award for Excellence in Cytokine Research in recognition of his transformative research in immunology, including ground-breaking discoveries in the field of T cell biology and IL-17 family cytokines. Dr. Dong’s research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms whereby immune and inflammatory responses are normally regulated, and to apply this knowledge to the understanding and treatment of autoimmunity and allergy disorders as well as cancer.

Dr. Chen’s lab has made seminal contributions to the field of CD4 T cell subsets. In addition to Th1 and Th2 cells discovered in 1986, Chen and others independently discovered Th17 lineage cells in 2005, which are crucial in inflammatory diseases. His group conducted a series of work to identify the key transcription factors and cytokines in Th17 cell development. His group also characterized the roles of Th17 cells in inflammatory diseases and cancers.

In 2008-2009, Chen and others defined another T cell subset - T follicular helper cells, which critically regulates humoral immunity. He first proposed these cells as a distinct subset of T cells and then independently discovered Bcl6 as the necessary factor for the development of these cells. His group also co-identified the T follicular regulatory (Tfr) cells that inhibit germinal center reactions.

In addition, Chen and his colleagues have systemically analyzed the function of IL-17 family cytokines in the immune system. They applied mouse genetic approaches to identify key functions of IL- 17A, IL-17F, IL-25/IL-17E, IL-17C and IL-17B as well as their receptors in inflammatory diseases. They were the first to find Act1 as an adaptor for the signaling of IL-17 family cytokines.

Hence, Chen has conducted groundbreaking and systemic research on T cells and cytokines. These finding have improved our understanding of human diseases and led to novel treatments. For example, antagonizing Th17 cell function has been approved to treat autoimmune diseases psoriasis and ankylosing spondylitis.

He has published more than 200 papers and is a Highly Cited Researcher from 2014 - 2018. He was Young Investigator awardee of the International Cytokine & Interferon Society and was given the American Association of Immunologists BD Bioscience Investigator Award In 2009. He was elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011. He currently serves as Editor -in-chief for T Cell Biology Section of Frontiers in Immunology and editorial board member of Immunity.

Chen was a Professor of Immunology and the Director of the Center for inflammation and Cancer at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center before joining Tsinghua University. He is the founding director of the Institute for Immunology at Tsinghua University, a dynamic immunology research center in the world. Chen became the Dean for the School of Medicine at Tsinghua University in 2016.

Dr. Dong will accept the 2019 BioLegend William E. Paul Award at Cytokines 2019, to be held 20-23 October, 2019 at the Hofburg Congress Center in Vienna and give a talk during the meeting.

Past winners of the ICIS BioLegend William E. Paul award are as follows:

  • 2016 - Richard M. Locksley, MD, Director of the Sandler Asthma Basic Research Center (SABRE) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2017 - Alan Sher, PhD, Chief, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, NIAID, Bethesda, USA
  • 2018 - Giorgio Trinchieri, MD, NIH, National Cancer Institute, Program Director, Cancer and Inflammation Program, NIH Distinguished Investigator, Head, Cancer Immunobiology Section

The ICIS-BioLegend William E. Paul Award represents the pinnacle of scientific achievement in cytokine research. The William E. Paul Award is bestowed upon a leading biomedical research scientist who has made outstanding contributions to cytokine research, either in a basic or applied field as demonstrated by publications, oral presentations and consistent scientific advancements in cytokine biology throughout their career, through the generosity of BioLegend. The awardee is selected by the ICIS Awards Committee based on nominations received from the international scientific community. The selection is based on strength and consistency throughout their career of cytokine research publications in peer reviewed journals, contributions to cytokine biology through the publication of reviews and book chapters, long term evidence of presenting their work on cytokine biology to the international community in oral presentations and leadership in the field as demonstrated by organization of cytokine biology meetings and chairing of sessions focused on cytokine biology at national/international meetings.