Lydia Lynch, PhD, Principle Investigator, Associate Immunologist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital/ Harvard Medical School, Director, Metabolic Core, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA
The 2022 ICIS-Luminex John R. Kettman Award for Excellence in Cytokine & Interferon Research Mid-career recognizes Lydia Lynch’s outstanding contributions to the field of cytokine biology, innate lymphoid cells, and established leadership in the field of immunometabolism.
Dr. Lynch is an exceptional scientist and a rising star in the field of immunometabolism who’s research interests are focussed on how the immune and metabolic systems interact. Her group is interested in the role of innate immune cells in regulating systemic metabolism and the effects of altered metabolism on immune cell function and uses obesity and diabetes as well as the tumor microenvironment to define how the nutrient supply or diet can influence immune cell functions by altering their cellular metabolism. Throughout her career, Lydia has demonstrated creativity, innovation, and determination in identifying specific research questions thus leading her to this exciting, important and novel area of research.
As an undergraduate at University College Dublin, Dr. Lynch was awarded first class honors for her degree at UCD, achieving first place in her entire undergraduate class. She then performed her graduate work under the supervision of Dr. Cliona Farrelly, at University College Dublin located at St. Vincents Hospital, Dublin. Lydia’s thesis focused on regional lymphoid subpopulations and lymphopoiesis in adult human gut and endometrium. Her graduate work led to several papers and a Newman Scholarship in Metabolism enabling her to continue her studies of obesity and work with consultant endocrinologist Professor Donal O’Shea. During her Newman Scholarship, Lydia showed that NK cell numbers and functions are compromised in obese individuals but only those who are metabolically unhealthy; she also made several discoveries regarding the immunological potential of human omentum, the most exciting being demonstration of a large resident iNKT cell population which became depleted in obese and cancerous patients. These findings and their potential impact on human health made Lydia determined to broaden her experience and training. She then obtained a Marie Curie Fellowship to conduct work at Harvard Medical School to study how human obesity compromises iNKT biology. This work led to a high-profile study published in Immunity.
In 2013, Dr. Lynch was then appointed as instructor at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and also established a laboratory at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland funded via a European Research Council Synergy award. She has since returned full time to HMS where she has expanded her research program very quickly into several interrelated and innovative research directions that have established her as a leader in the field of immunometaboism. At Brigham Women’s Hosptial/Harvard Medical School her research achievements continue on a remarkable trajectory.
Over the past 5-6 years, her lab has published multiple high-impact and high-profile studies. The earliest studies out of her lab were interesting extensions of her postdoctoral work, elucidating various ways in which innate lymphocytes regulate adipose tissue homeostasis and thermogenesis. Her lab’s characterization of the metabolic and functional states of ILCs, iNK T cells and gd T cells in adipose tissues is the lead to new insight into how these cells interact with and regulate adipose tissue macrophages and Tregs. Her 2018 Nature Immunology paper looking at how obesity regulates NK cell function uncovered a very novel mechanism for how the “killer immunological synapse” and hence, release of cytotoxic granules and movement of the mitochondrial organizing center, was impaired by high fat diet. She was able to localize this to functional defects in PPARa/δ inhibition of glycolysis.
All of this work has strong translational relevance with real-world implications regarding the impact of obesity and diet on cancer immunotherapy, and on the mechanisms underlying the increased risk of immune-related disorders, including infection, autoimmunity and cancer, which are associated with obesity. She has published a number of highly significant and impactful manuscripts and review articles in leading journals, including Nature, Nature Immunology, Immunity and Cell Metabolism and has attracted substantial grant funding as well as numerous awards. Professor Lynch has an impressive portfolio of research grants on all of these topics both from the NIH (RO1), the American Diabetes Association and internal HMS mechanisms. Her well-funded program highlights her achievements and successes and demonstrate her ability to secure grant support at the highest level.
At BWH, Dr. Lynch also serves as Director of the Metabolic Core providing a key service for local researchers to study whole body metabolism, energy balance and immunometabolism. She has also been committed to training the next generation of immunologists and has mentored numerous graduate students and post-doctoral fellows since first establishing her lab. She is committed to fostering graduate education both at the HMS where she teaches in graduate student courses in Immunology and at Trinity College Dublin where she played an active role in both graduate and undergraduate education. She is also a passionate advocate for women in science serving as a role model and inspiration to many.
Dr. Lynch will give a talk at the 4th International Conference on Lymphoid Cells (ILC4) joint meeting with Cytokines 2022 Hybrid Meeting, where she will also make a presentation in the opening awards session.
This award generously supported by Luminex Corporation recognizes a mid-career investigator who has made outstanding contributions to the field of interferon or cytokine biology. The awardee will receive a $5,000 cash prize that covers meeting registration, and where applicable travel support to the ICIS annual meeting for presentation of his or her research in an award lecture. The award is named after Dr. John R (Jack) Kettman, an immunologist who was instrumental in the development of Luminex’s technologies and the Luminex Corporation.
A nominee must be an ICIS member in good standing* who is within 15 years from their terminal degree (Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent). A nominee must be an independent research scientist (PI); postdoctoral fellows are not eligible. Eligibility of the nominee will be checked at time of nomination and before presentation of award.
*This award is intended for a mid-career researcher with a maximum of 15 years post-degree. It is, however, recognized that there may have been family-related, personal, or other circumstances resulting in extended time out of the laboratory. Exceptions to the 15-year limit will be considered based on a description of any special circumstances.
Dr. Kettman received his undergraduate degree in biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, and completed his Ph. D. at Oregon State University under the advisory of TE King. He completed his postdoctoral work in immunochemistry with E. Benjamini and immunobiology with RW Dutton. He was a member of the Basel Institute for Immunology 1972-1973 and spent twenty eight years as on the faculty of the Microbiology Department at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas. He currently serves as a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Immunology, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas. Jack was a co-founder of Luminex Corporation and former member of Board of Directors (1995) and a partner and member of board of Directors, Radix BioSolutions, Georgetown TX. He is author or co-author of over one hundred publications in reviewed scientific Journals.