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Penn Vet Immunologist Named President-Elect of the International Cytokine & Interferon Society

For Immediate Release

Parasitology expert Christopher A. Hunter, PhD, to lead preeminent cytokine biology group

[November 19, 2019; Oradell, NJ USA – Christopher A. Hunter, PhD, Mindy Halikman Heyer Distinguished Professor of Pathobiology at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet), has been elected President-elect of the International Cytokine & Interferon Society. Hunter officially began his term in November and will take office as President following the Cytokines 2021 Cardiff meeting in October, 2021.

The International Cytokine & Interferon Society (ICIS) is devoted to research in the fields of cytokine, interferon and chemokine cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry and the clinical use of these biological response modifiers. Bringing together over 950 scientists from across different research disciplines, the ICIS is the premier organization promoting cytokine-based discovery to identify therapies for people with autoimmune diseases, cancer, inflammation, infectious disease and allergies.

“The society has provided me with many opportunities to interact with other scientists and contribute to our community worldwide,” said Hunter. “The last 25 years have seen remarkable progress in the use of cytokines as therapies. The foundations for many of these discoveries are based on basic and translational research performed by our ICIS members.”

Hunter’s research focuses on the complex interplay of the immune system at the cellular level and how those interactions govern a host organism’s recognition and response to immune insults. He has a particular interest in the role played by cytokine networks that regulate the balance between protective and pathological immune responses. His research is relevant to many inflammatory processes, including cancer, asthma, lupus, multiple sclerosis and arthritis.

“Dr. Hunter’s ground breaking research has important implications for both animal and human health, and helps to distinguish Penn Vet as one of the world’s finest institutions,” said James “Sparky” Lok, PhD, interim chair of the Department of Pathobiology. “He is a creative, committed and passionate researcher in important areas of global health. I’m thrilled that he will be leading the next generation of interferon and cytokine scientists.”

“Dr. Hunter has been highly active in the ICIS throughout his career. His wealth of experience at the cutting edge of cytokine biology combined with his skilled leadership and internationally recognized reputation will greatly benefit and enhance the society for years to come,” said Kate Fitzgerald, PhD, president of ICIS and professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “Having worked with Chris to chair the society’s 2018 meeting in Boston, I am delighted to have another opportunity to work together for the benefit of ICIS, during my own tenure as President.”

The broad impact of Hunter’s research is illustrated by his roles as a senior investigator for the American Asthma Foundation and as a scientific founder and member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Surface Oncology, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company focused on cancer immunotherapies. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is the recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Young Investigator Award and the Cormie Prize in Neurology, and was selected as an Irvington Research Scholar. He is the author of more than 250 publications and his work has been cited more than 30,000 times.

Hunter joined the faculty at Penn Vet as assistant professor in 1996. He was later appointed associate professor of Parasitology in 2001, and in 2005 was named professor of Parasitology in the Department of Pathobiology. From 2007 through 2018, he served as chair of the Department of Pathobiology, and in 2015, he was named the inaugural Mindy Halikman Heyer President’s Distinguished Professor. Hunter also served as Director of Penn Vet’s Center for Host-Microbial Interactions from 2012 to 2018. During his tenure at the University, Dr. Hunter has supervised more than 50 students, many of whom now hold academic and leadership positions at peer institutions and in industry.

Hunter was awarded his BSc in Zoology and a PhD in Parasite Biochemistry from the University of Glasgow, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Glasgow University School of Veterinary Medicine. He completed his post-doctoral training at Stanford University.

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