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Egil Lien, PhD

Egil Lien

By Merin C. MacDonald | Date published: September 20, 2023

September Researcher Spotlight: Egil Lien, PhD

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we highlight the work of Egil Lien, PhD, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, and faculty in the Program in Innate Immunity. Dr. Lien also holds a faculty appointment at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in Trondheim, Norway. 

Dr. Lien’s research focuses on understanding host-pathogen interactions at the intersection of inflammation and cell death pathways. Specifically, he studies mechanisms for pathogen activation and inhibition of innate immunity, the manipulation of signaling by bacterial secretion system effectors, such as those produced by Yersinia and Salmonella, and subsequent host backup responses. He is also interested in non-infectious innate immune signaling induced by vaccines, metabolism, and neuroinflammatory diseases 

Dr. Lien is currently the principal investigator on an R01 project where he is studying caspase-8 as a focal hub in effector-triggered immunity. Here, he and his team aim to determine a caspase-8-controlled molecular pathway involved in the host responses to bacterial infection, using  Yersinia bacteria as a model system. He is also PI on an R21 where he is studying bacterial activation and evasion of a Pyrin-Gasdermin D axis. In this project, he aims to reveal key mechanisms in bacterial activation and evasion of Pyrin inflammasome activation. Results from these studies could help in designing therapies for Pyrin-associated pathologies. Both projects are funded by the NIH National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Lien has published over 100 papers, including in high-impact journals such as Science, Nature Immunology, Immunity, PNAS, and PLOS Pathogens 

Dr. Lien has been a lecturer at the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences since 2005 and has served as a director for the Immunology block of Infection and Immune Response and Innate Immunity block of Advanced Immunology. In 2018, he received the Dean’s Teaching Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Classroom Setting. Dr. Lien is also a dedicated advisor and mentor to undergraduate and graduate students, and postdoctoral trainees, and has organized the Innate Immunity Data Club, a monthly series in which graduate students and postdocs present their research, since 2009. He has also contributed towards organizing a number of international meetings, such as the Toll meeting series. 

Dr. Lien earned his PhD in cell biology and immunology from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). He completed postdoctoral fellowships in cell biology and immunology at  NTNU, and in immunology and infectious disease at Boston University/Boston Medical Center under the supervision of Dr. Douglas Golenbock. Dr. Lien joined the faculty at UMass Chan in 2002 

We are thankful to Dr. Lien for his many contributions as an investigator and educator in the Department of Medicine.