Dr. Gabriel Nuñez is the 2019 recipient of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) Rous-Whipple Award. Since 1979, this award has been presented annually to a senior scientist with a distinguished career in research who has advanced the understanding of disease and has continued productivity at the time of the award. This award is named after Drs. Francis Peyton Rous and George Hoyt Whipple, both Nobel Laureates and past presidents of the American Society for Experimental Pathology (ASEP), a precursor to ASIP.
Dr. Nuñez is recognized across the world as one of the foremost experts in several areas: gastrointestinal and systemic inflammation, host microbial interactions, and mucosal immunology. Early in his career, Dr. Nuñez and his associates identified key steps in the apoptotis pathway and multiple components involved in cell death. He went on to study pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) and identified the intracellular Nod-like receptors (NLRs) NOD1 and NOD2-- proteins that function as intracellular sensors of microbial products. His laboratory’s work on NOD2 and its genetic variations led to seminal studies and the groundbreaking discovery that NOD2 is involved in the pathogenesis of Crohn’s disease. More recently, the Nuñez laboratory has focused on understanding the role of PRRs in the host immune response against microbial pathogens and endogenous damage signals, and how NLR mutant proteins lead to disease. In addition, the laboratory is identifying the role of microbiota in enteric pathogen colonization and pathogen-driven intestinal inflammation. Dr. Nuñez’s steadfast focus on host microbial recognition and response has led to important discoveries that have had far-reaching implications for inflammatory and complex genetic diseases. According to Warren Strober, Section Chief of the Mucosal Immunity Section in the Laboratory of Host Defenses at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “[Dr. Nuñez] is the go-to person for all important meetings in the field that now includes the basic immunology of innate immunity and the applied immunology of inflammatory bowel disease.”
Dr. Nuñez earned an MD from the University of Seville, Spain in 1977, followed by postdoctoral training in immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas (1979–1984). He completed a residency in anatomical pathology at Washington University in St Louis (1985–1990), during which he joined the laboratory of the late Stanley Korsmeyer at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), studying the anti-apoptotic protein BCL-2. It was in the Korsmeyer laboratory that Dr. Nuñez discovered a passion for scientific investigation and developed the discipline and habits that have served him in his career ever since. In 1991, he accepted his first faculty position as Assistant Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he has remained, rising through the ranks to his current position as the Paul de Kruif Professor of Academic Pathology, an appointment he accepted in 2001.
Asma Nusrat, Professor and Director of Experimental Pathology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor praises Dr. Nuñez’s contributions to the clinical and teaching mission of the Department of Pathology: since his recruitment in 1991, he has trained more than 50 postdoctoral fellows and over 40 graduate students, with the majority now working as independent research scientists and/or faculty members of academic departments. Dr. Nuñez also serves as an attending physician in the autopsy service at the University of Michigan Hospital, further proof of his dedication to the field, institution, and public.
Dr. Nuñez has published over 300 manuscripts in well-regarded peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, Cell, and Immunity. He has published 46 reviews and 15 book chapters. He is a highly sought-after speaker, having accepted over 400 invitations in his career thus far to speak at seminars and lectures, 12 as a keynote speaker, and one at the ASIP Annual Meeting in 2013, along with several lectures at the Experimental Biology Meeting, for which ASIP is a participating society. Dr. Nuñez also serves on numerous editorial boards, national and international study sections, and is active in many professional societies, including ASIP.
In summary, Dr. Nuñez has assiduously applied himself and his talents to the pathology and immunology fields as a teacher, scholar, clinical pathologist and experimental pathologist. For his diligence and discoveries, he has assured his position as a pillar of leadership in the Pathology and Immunology communities.
Dr. Nuñez will be presented the Rous-Whipple Award at the 2018 PISA Meeting in Ann Arbor, Michigan, during the Awards Presentation session on Monday, October 22, 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM. His Rous-Whipple Award lecture is scheduled for Sunday, October 21 from 11:20 AM to 12:00 PM.
For additional information on PISA2018, including the preliminary program, hotel information, and upcoming deadlines, please go to pisa2018.org