Michael J. Lenardo, Chief, Molecular Development of the Immune System Section, at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a founder of the NIH-Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program was inducted to The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on April 30, 2019.
Lenardo was among 100 new members and 25 foreign associates in recognition of their “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.” Those elected today bring the total number of active members to 2,347 and the total number of foreign associates to 487.
Lenardo’s research focuses on the molecular regulation of T lymphocytes, particularly as it relates to immunological tolerance, apoptosis, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and similar diseases. His pioneering work uses both molecular biology and cellular immunology techniques to pursue these investigations, with a focus on programs of cell death and survival, including apoptosis, autophagy, and necrosis mechanisms. Lenardo’s approach has been to use contemporary genomic approaches to discover the molecular basis of new genetic diseases of the immune system that affect activation, tolerance, and homeostasis and to develop novel means of diagnosis and immunomodulation of these diseases. He is attempting to pioneer a means of antigen-specific induction of apoptosis of pathogenic T cells for treating autoimmune disease. Such studies could lead to a better understanding of molecular regulatory mechanisms that are important for human immunological diseases.
Dr. Lenardo graduated with a B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and an M.D. from Washington University, St. Louis. He performed clinical work in internal medicine and research at the University of Iowa and received postdoctoral training at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He established an independent research unit in the Laboratory of Immunology in 1989 and became a senior investigator and section chief in 1994. Lenardo serves on several editorial boards and has given numerous lectures around the world on his work on the molecular regulation of immune homeostasis. His work focuses on lymphocyte apoptosis, autoimmunity, and genomics of the immune system.
Dr. Lenardo joins fellow NIH faculty member, Elaine Ostrander, in this achievement. Membership to the Academies is considered one of the highest honors bestowed to a U.S. scientist. There are currently forty eight members elected from the NIH . The National Academies provide expert advice to the U.S. government on issues of science, health, and engineering and, today, comprise three private, nonprofit institutions: The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and National Academy of Medicine (NAM). The NAM is the newest of these, established in 1970 originally under the name Institute of Medicine (IOM).