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UMMS Professor Katherine Fitzgerald receives 2014 Eli Lilly And Company-Elanco Research Award

By Jim Fessenden

UMass Medical School Communications

5/16/2014 9:30:00 AM

Katherine Fitzgerald, PhDKatherine Fitzgerald, PhD, professor of medicine, has been awarded the 2014 Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research Award from the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) for her contributions to the understanding of the basic biology of innate immunity and its role in human disease. Dr. Fitzgerald will receive the award at the ASM General Meeting Awards Banquet and Dinner on Sunday, May 18, 2014 and will deliver the Eli Lilly Award lecture at the 114th ASM General Meeting in Boston on May 20, 2014.

The Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco award, the oldest and most esteemed prize bestowed by the ASM, is given to a scientist who has demonstrated outstanding, fundamental research of unusual merit in microbiology or immunology.

“Dr. Fitzgerald’s research has led to a new understanding of innate immunity, making her a well-deserving recipient of this prestigious honor,” said Robert W. Finberg, MD, chair and professor of medicine.

Research in the Fitzgerald lab focuses on uncovering the molecular basis of host defense and the inflammatory process with the ultimate goal of understanding how dysregulation of sensing, signaling and gene regulation in innate immunity underlie the pathogenesis of infectious, inflammatory and autoimmune disease in humans. Using an interdisciplinary approach and a highly collaborative style, she has made numerous novel discoveries including the identification of Toll-like receptor (TLR) adapter molecules and uncovering new evidence for the importance of regulatory long-coding RNAs in innate immune cells. 

Fitzgerald joined UMMS in 2002 after completing her post-doctoral studies in the laboratory of Luke O’Neill, PhD, at Trinity College Dublin where she studied the molecular basis of signal transduction in innate immunity and inflammatory pathways. Fitzgerald received her BS degree in 1995 from the University College Cork, Ireland and her PhD in biochemistry in 1999 at Trinity College Dublin.

She is a recipient of a 2002 Wellcome Trust International Research Fellowship; 2003 International Cytokine Society Young Investigator Award; 2003 Milstein Young Investigator Award and in 2014 she won the American Association of Immunologists BD-Biosciences Investigator Award. In 1999 she received a Donegan Medal from the Irish Royal Academy of Medicine.

Past winners of the Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research Award include Nobel Laureates Elizabeth H. Blackburn and David L. Baltimore among others.