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Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD, recognized as a 2014 Milstein Award Laureate

By Megan Bard

UMass Medical School Communications

December 29, 2014
  Katherine Fitzgerald, Milstein, innate immunity, Seymour and Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research,  International Cytokine and Interferon Society, UMass Medical School, UMMS, UMassMed
  Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD

Katherine Fitzgerald, PhD, has received the Seymour and Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research by the International Cytokine and Interferon Society for her work in innate immunity, specifically in interferon production. Dr. Fitzgerald, professor of medicine, was recognized as a Milstein Award Laureate during the International Cytokine and Interferon Society’s annual meeting in Melbourne, Australia, in October. Members of the UMass Medical School’s Department of Medicine recognized Fitzgerald for her accomplishment during a reception held at the school in Decemebr.

Fitzgerald is a leader in immunology for her work to unravel the molecular basis of host defense and the inflammatory process.

“In her last 10 years, at least every six months she comes up with something spectacular,” Douglas Golenbock, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, said of Fitzgerald.

“She’s a young person and she already has a more distinguished publication record than those among the well known senior scientists that I know. I have no reason to believe to that she is going to slow down,” Dr. Golenbock said, describing her as a tour de force and deserving of the Milstein recognition.

“She is a very, very remarkable person and UMass is just lucky to have her,” Golenbock said.

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 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 postdoctoral studies at Trinity College Dublin where she studied the molecular basis of signal transduction in innate immunity and inflammatory pathways. Fitzgerald received her BS 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; 2014 American Association of Immunologists BD-Biosciences Investigator Award; and the 2014 Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research Award from the American Society of Microbiology. In 1999 she received a Donegan Medal from the Irish Royal Academy of Medicine.