Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, Ph.D.
Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, Ph.D. is the Vice Chair of Immunology and the Rose Marie Thomas Endowed Chair at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
The field of innate immunity and inflammasome has emerged as a central focus in biomedical research in recent years, and Dr. Kanneganti’s contributions are at an outstanding level and at the forefront of this research area. She is listed by Thompson Reuters/ Clarivates in the top 1% of immunologists in the world (2017, 2018), based on citations per paper.
Her first major contribution, amongst many others, to the field of innate immunity was the initial discovery of the role of the NLRP3 inflammasome in caspase-1 activation by microbial components (Nature 2006 Mar 9;440(7081):233-6). Her research identified the activation mechanisms of inflammasomes during infections and autoinflammatory diseases and the crosstalk between several cell death pathways, namely pyroptosis, apoptosis and necroptosis. Using novel genetic mouse models and in-depth molecular and biochemical analyses, her lab has discovered distinct and previously unrecognized functions of the cytokines IL-1α, IL-1 and IL-33 and their signaling pathways in inflammatory diseases and cancer. Her lab has recently identified ZBP1/DAI as an innate sensor of influenza virus that triggers the NLRP3 inflammasome and programmed cell death pathways. Additionally, research from her lab discovered roles for NLRC3 in regulating PI3K signaling and for the cGAS-STING-IRF-GBP-IRGB10 pathway in liberating ligands that are eventually sensed by the AIM2 and NLRP3 inflammasomes. Dr. Kanneganti has authored approximately 230 original peer-reviewed publications, with many of them appearing in top-ranking journals. Her studies have contributed significantly to shaping our current understanding of the NLRs, inflammasomes, interferons, cell death and cytokines of the IL-1 family in all areas of immunology and infectious disease research.
Dr. Kanneganti serves on numerous editorial boards and several national and international advisory and grant review committees. She chaired the NIH Innate Immunity and Inflammation study section. She has mentored several research fellows, many of whom have gone on to become independent principal investigators, and has received the 2015 Vince Kidd Mentor of the Year Award. The American Association of Immunologists (AAI) has recognized her contributions to the field of immunology by selecting her for the AAI-BD Biosciences Investigator Award in 2015, and she also received the Society for Leukocyte Biology (SLB) Dolph O. Adams award and Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research Award from the American Association of Microbiology (ASM). More recently, the International Cytokine & Interferon Socitey Awards Committee have chosen Dr. Kanneganti as one of the recipients of the 2018 Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research in recognition of her numerous contributions and impact on our understanding of immunology, inflammation and cytokine signaling.