Cho named Inflammation Program director

Josalyn Cho, MD, assistant professor in Pulmonary, Critical Care, & Occupational Medicine, has been named the next director of the University of Iowa’s Inflammation Program. Cho returned to the University of Iowa, where she earned her medical degree, in 2018, after years as director of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship and Vice Chair of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to her clinical responsibilities in University of Iowa Health Care’s Medical ICU and Post-COVID-19 Clinic, Cho conducts research that aims to understand the immunologic mechanisms of lung disease. Currently, Cho is investigating the ability of an immune regulatory protein, Tim3, to promote viral clearance of influenza without lung injury. Her laboratory is also working to understand how innate immune cells promote and sustain the inflammation that drives allergic asthma.

Cho succeeds William Nauseef, MD, emeritus professor in Infectious Diseases, as director. Nauseef is the founder of the Inflammation Program, an interdisciplinary research group, which has aimed to uncover the mechanisms and consequences of inflammation at a cellular and molecular level since its founding in 1998, with the encouragement and support of Dr. François Abboud, then Chair of the Department of Medicine. With dozens of investigators from across the institution, including the Departments of Microbiology, Biochemistry, Anatomy & Cell Biology, and Pediatrics, the Inflammation Program has produced scores of publications advancing understanding of the fundamental biology of inflammation. Extramural support from the NIH, Veterans Affairs, and private foundations has been strong and sustained, including a Program Project Grant from the NIH for 14 years. Current research areas include the regulation of pro-inflammatory signaling between host and microbe; the mechanisms by which successful pathogens can evade or resist host defenses; the structure, function, and mobilization of antimicrobial host compounds; and the influence of early life exposures on immune development.

“The Inflammation Program has been the source of a number of important discoveries over the years,” Cho said. “Whether it has been discoveries that explain human immunodeficiency or identifying previously unknown biological pathways, the UI’s Inflammation Program has been a leader in the field for decades. I’m excited by the opportunity to work with such talented investigators and look forward to sustaining the tradition of collaboration and curiosity that Dr. Nauseef established.”

Nauseef will remain a member of the Inflammation Program and continue to supervise his NIH-funded laboratory’s conduct of research into neutrophil-mediated responses during inflammation and host responses during infection. “I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to be a member of this dynamic group of wonderful investigators and to have watched it grow,” he said. “We’ve made a number of breakthroughs, but more importantly we’ve done so as an integrated and caring community of investigators who have provided a supportive environment to nurture and educate future researchers, and to mentor many graduate students, postdocs, and physician scientists who go on to launch their own successful research careers. I anticipate that the Inflammation Program’s best years are ahead and that Dr. Cho’s leadership will foster novel insights and great rewards.”

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