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About Katherine A. Fitzgerald

Katherine A. Fitzgerald, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Research in the Fitzgerald laboratory focuses on many aspects of innate immunity and includes the following areas:

- Molecular basis of pathogen recognition: Our work has focused on the identification and analysis of receptors involved in innate immune recognition (Pattern Recognition Receptors) and signaling pathways activated by these receptors. Of particular interest is the role of the Toll like Receptors as well as cytosolic PRRs including the NOD-like receptor family as well as the PYHIN protein family (AIM2, IFI16), all of which play essential roles in innate immunity to viral and bacterial infections.

- Innate immunity to malaria: Malaria is the most important infectious disease in world history. Little is known about the molecular basis for fever and inflammation during malaria. Studies are underway to explore the role of cytosolic sensors in the inflammation and fever induced in malaria infected individuals.

- Type I Interferon gene regulation: Our work in this area has focused on understanding the molecular basis for activation of the interferon regulatory factors. A major focus is on the role of the IkB kinase-related kinases, IKK epsilon and TANK binding kinase-1 (TBK1) in phosphorylation-induced activation of IRF3 and IRF7.

- Counter regulation of innate immune recognition: Inflammation and production of anti-viral interferon is a normal component of the host response to infection. However, excessive production of these mediators, may contribute to a variety of pathological states, including autoimmunity. We are studying how dysregulation of innate immune pathways may contribute to autoimmune disease and exploring the molecular basis for counterregulation of PRR-driven signaling in an effort to understand the normal mechanisms which prevent inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.


Present Director, Program in Innate Immunity, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Present Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School Department of Medicine
Present Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

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Honors and Awards

  • Seymour and Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research, International Cytokine and Interferon Society (2014)
  • Eli Lilly and Company-Elanco Research Award, American Society of Microbiology (2014)
  • American Association of Immunologists BD-Biosciences Investigator Award (2014)
  • Faculty Grant Award, 3M Pharmaceuticals (2006)
  • International Cytokine Society Young Investigator Award (2003)
  • Milstein Young Investigator Award, International Interferon and Cytokine Society (2003)
  • Wellcome Trust International Research Fellowship (2002)
  • Royal Academy of Medicine, Donegan Medal (1999)
  • Women in Science and Health Achievement Award, Women's Faculty Committee, UMass Medical School (2016)
  • Thomson Reuters Web of Science Highly Cited Researchers (2014-2016)

Contact Information

Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology
University of Massachusetts Medical School
364 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605
Phone: 508-856-6518

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