Iwasaki received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Physics in 1994 and her doctoral degree in Immunology in 1998, both at University of Toronto, Canada. She joined the laboratory of Brian Kelsall at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, where she studied dendritic cells in the mucosal immune system. In 2000, Iwasaki started her own independent laboratory as an assistant professor at Yale University. Now a professor in the Department of Immunobiology, she also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.
Iwasaki's main interest is understanding the mechanisms by which viruses are recognized by the host innate immune system, and how such recognition pathways lead to the generation of adaptive immunity. Her research has identified the mechanisms by which Toll-like receptors (TLR) recognize DNA and RNA viruses within the endosomes. Flavell explains that "Iwasaki's group was first to demonstrate that DNA viruses are detected by TLR9, which was the first demonstration of in vivo function of TLR9 and the first demonstration of viral recognition by TLRs in plasmcytoid dendritic cells." Her research program has also provided key molecular insights into the intracellular mechanisms involved in TLR-mediated viral recognition, by identifying the role of autophagy and adaptor proteins in trafficking of viral ligand and receptors to the appropriate endosomes. Her research has also led to the identification of tissue dendritic subsets that orchestrate various aspects of adaptive immune responses to viruses, including herpes simplex virus and influenza. "Within the field of herpesvirus-immunology, Iwasaki's work is notable for its quality and completeness. Her research work is original, high impact, and innovative," says Herbert Virgin, Washington University School of Medicine. Iwasaki's research has also shed light on the role of NOD-like receptors (NLR) in linking innate viral recognition to adaptive immune response against influenza virus infection. This process is aided by endogenous bacteria, which trigger priming signals for NLR-dependent cytokine responses.
Iwasaki's work has been widely recognized. In 2000, she received the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in Biomedical Sciences, which supported her transition from a postdoc to an independent scientist. In 2003, she was awarded the Wyeth Lederle Young Investigator Award from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the Women's Health Program Investigator Award from the Ethel Donaghue Foundation for her work on genital herpes infection. She was named the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in Pathogenesis in Infectious Diseases in 2005, and received the BD Biosciences Investigator Award from the American Associations of Immunologists in 2011.
"Iwasaki is highly accomplished, imaginative, and is already an intellectual driving force in the area of viral immunology and the role of autophagy in virus infection," summarizes Virgin. "She is an outstanding scientist and colleague."
Provided by American Society for Microbiology
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