Dan Littman, New York University, USA

Dan Littman

Dr. Littman’s laboratory applies molecular and genetics tools to study how T lymphocytes develop and participate in inflammation and how HIV interacts with the host innate immune system. Dr. Littman isolated the genes for the CD4 and CD8 co-receptors and determined how their expression is regulated and their signaling influences selection of helper and cytotoxic cells. His group discovered that the nuclear receptor RORgt regulates differentiation of Th17 cells and lymphoid tissue inducer cells and that it can be targeted for autoimmune disease therapy. He and his colleagues identified a commensal gut bacterium that selectively induces Th17 cells and promotes autoimmunity in mice, which may be relevant for human diseases, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, thought to be influenced by imbalanced microbiota. Dr. Littman’s group also characterized CD4 and CCR5 as receptors for HIV and showed how HIV evades host innate responses by failing to replicate in dendritic cells.  His laboratory’s current focus is on elucidating the mechanisms that promote immune system homeostasis at mucosal surfaces and on characterizing the role of the microbiota in these processes.

Dr. Littman completed the M.D./Ph.D. program at Washington University in St. Louis and was a postdoctoral fellow in Richard Axel’s laboratory at Columbia University. He was Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California, San Francisco, before joining NYU, where he is the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Professor of Molecular Immunology at the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Littman is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of the New York Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, the AAI-Invitrogen Meritorious Career Award, and the Ross Prize in Molecular Medicine.

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