Pathogenic work on infectious diseases wins Burroughs recognition for Yarovinsky

By Deborah Wormser

Felix Yarovinsky, M.D.
Dr. Felix Yarovinsky

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has selected Dr. Felix Yarovinsky, Assistant Professor of Immunology, as one of its 2013 Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases.

Each year, the independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the biomedical sciences chooses 10 early-career scientists nationwide for the highly competitive awards, which provide research funding of $500,000 over five years.

The award will further Dr. Yarovinsky’s research at UT Southwestern Medical Center on a new cellular source for the important disease-fighting protein interferon-gamma (IFN-γ).

In a study published June 25 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Yarovinsky reported on a series of experiments in mice that identified the most common white blood cells (neutrophils) as a major source of IFN-γ. The study reported that neutrophil IFN-γ is critical to limiting the early proliferation of two disease-causing organisms, one a parasite and the other a bacterium.

“The Burroughs Wellcome grant is an appropriate and tremendous honor for Felix and recognizes his outstanding accomplishments as a developing leader in the investigation of innate immune responses to infectious disease,” said Dr. Ward Wakeland, Chairman of Immunology and Director of the Walter M. and Helen D. Bader Center for Research on Arthritis and Autoimmune Diseases.

Dr. Wakeland said the award will help Dr. Yarovinsky expand animal studies of this novel, early innate immune response pathway.

“I am very grateful to the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and its advisory committee for this amazing and generous award. It is an honor and privilege to be recognized by the outstanding scientists in the field of infectious diseases. This award is also unique in that it supports and encourages scientific collaborations with the others who also have received this prestigious award,” Dr. Yarovinsky said.

Dr. Yarovinksy, a winner of three Fellows Awards for Research Excellence from the National Institutes of Health, earned his medical degree in 2000 from the Russian State Medical University in Moscow. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in basic research at the National Cancer Institute, followed by work from 2003 to 2007 as a Visiting Fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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Dr. Wakeland holds the Edwin L. Cox Distinguished Chair in Immunology and Genetics.

Dr. Yarovinsky is a Nancy Cain and Jeffrey A. Marcus Scholar in Medical Research, in Honor of Dr. Bill S. Vowell.

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