Jun Huh named Searle Scholar for research on innate immunity

Three-year award will advance immunologist’s investigations into the first line of defense against infection

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

May 06, 2015
  Jun Huh, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, has been named a 2015 Searle Scholar
  Jun Huh, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, has been named a 2015 Searle Scholar

UMass Medical School immunology and infectious disease researcher Jun Huh, PhD, is one of 15 young scientists in the chemical and biological sciences who have been named 2015 Searle Scholars. Dr. Huh, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases & Immunology, will receive $300,000 in flexible funding to support his study “Small Molecule Control of Immune Responses” over the next three years. 

The 2015 Searle Scholars were selected for their potential to make significant contributions to chemical and biological research over the course of their careers by a Scientific Advisory Board comprising 12 scientists distinguished for their research and leadership across a wide range of fields. This year, 186 applications were considered from recently appointed assistant professors, nominated by 126 universities and research institutions.

“The mechanisms underlying autoimmune diseases are poorly understood,” said Huh. “My lab combines genetic and chemical screens to reveal how immune cell activities are, and can be, regulated in autoimmune pathologies via key factors that control gene expression.”

Dr. Huh joined UMMS in 2013 after completing his PhD at the California Institute of Technology Pasadena and conducting post-doctoral research at New York University School of Medicine. His research focuses on the identification of chemical and genetic tools to regulate pro-inflammatory immune cells in murine disease models such as intestinal bowel diseases, and the pursuit of bacterial metabolites regulating host immune responses. He also studies epigenetic regulatory mechanisms as well as the mechanisms through which immune cells modulate neural development. In 2013, Huh received the Smith Family Foundation Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research, a highly competitive award intended to help launch the careers of newly independent biomedical researchers.

“Dr. Huh’s work is incredibly important as he is uncovering new connections between T-cells in our immune system, the microbes that reside in our bodies and our digestive systems.  He aims to harness these discoveries to identify new ways to treat a myriad of inflammatory, infectious and even neurological disorders,” said Neal Silverman, PhD, professor of medicine. “The Searle award is a wonderful recognition of the promise inherent in Dr. Huh’s research program and we are thrilled that the foundation shares our enthusiasm for these studies.”

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Huh awarded Smith Family Award for new investigators
Torres named Searle Scholar for 2013