Michaela Gack

  • Latest publications

    Chan, Y.K. and Gack, M.U. (2016). A phosphomimetic-based mechanism of dengue virus to antagonize innate immunity. Nature Immunology, in press

    Sparrer, K.M. and Gack, M.U. (2015). Intracellular Detection of Viral Nucleic Acids. Current Opinion in Microbiology 2015 Mar 17;26:1-9.

    Davis, M.E., Wang, M.K., Rennick, L.J., Full, F., Gableske, S., Mesman, A. W., Gringhuis, S. I., Geijtenbeek, T.B.H., Duprex, W.P., and Gack, M.U. (2014). Antagonism of the Phosphatase PP1 by the measles virus V protein is required for innate immune escape of MDA5. Cell Host Microbe 2014 Jul 9;16(1):19-30.

    Pauli, E.-K., Chan Y.K., Davis, M.E., Gableske, S., Wang, M.K., Feister, F.F., and Gack, M.U. (2014), The Ubiquitin-Specific Protease USP15 Promotes RIG-I-Mediated Antiviral Signaling by Deubiquitylating TRIM25. Science Signaling 7, ra3.

    Wies, E., Wang, M.K., Maharaj, N.P., Chen, K., Zhou, S., Finberg, R. W., and Gack, M.U. (2013), Dephosphorylation of the RNA sensors RIG-I and MDA5 by the phosphatase PP1 is essential for innate immune signaling. Immunity 2013 Mar 21;38(3):437-49.

  • Prizes and Awards

    John and Virginia Kaneb Award, 2015

    Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award, American Society for Microbiology, 2014

    “Top 40 under 40” Scientist, Germany, 2013, 2014

    The Christina Fleischmann Award to Young Women Investigators, International Cytokine and Interferon Society, 2013

    Junior Investigator Award, European Society for Virology, 2013

    Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award, American Society for Virology, 2013

    Stewart Trust Fellow, The Alexander & Margaret Stewart Trust Foundation, 2013

    Armenise-Harvard Junior Faculty Grant, Department of Microbiology & Immunology: “Viral Mechanisms to Escape the RIG-I/MDA5-Mediated Innate Immune Response.”, 2012

    William F. Milton Fund Award. Prize awarded for the discovery of novel viral immune escape strategies, 2012

    Selected as one of “100 Women of Tomorrow” by the president of Germany. The president selected 100 German women who demonstrated exceptional abilities in science, economy or arts, 2011

    Fast Track Fellowship of the Robert Bosch Foundation. Award for outstanding scientific achievements as an young independent investigator, 2011

    GE & Science Prize for Young Life Scientists, Stockholm, Sweden. Prize awarded during the Nobel Prize Celebrations in Stockholm, Sweden. Prize winning essay published in Science online in December 2009, 2009

    Robert Koch Postdoctoral Prize, Robert Koch Foundation, Germany. Award for outstanding achievements in influenza research during postdoctoral studies, 2009

    Otto Westphal Prize, German Society for Immunology. Award for the best dissertation in the field of immunology in 2008, 2009

    Harvard Dean’s Report, 2007, 2009

    Millipore Young Cell Signaler Award, Dundee, UK. Prize awarded for the discovery of TRIM25 as activator of RIG-I mediated antiviral innate immunity, 2007

    Bavarian scholarship for outstanding students, 1998 – 2003

    Karl von Frisch Prize of the German Biology Society, 1998

Who she is

Michaela Gack, Ph.D., grew up in Coburg, Germany. She did her undergraduate studies in Molecular Medicine at the Friedrich Alexander University (FAU) in Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, and her Ph.D. studies in Virology at Harvard Medical School as part of the joint graduate training program between Harvard University and FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg.

After receiving her Ph.D. in 2008, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California in 2009 and shortly after, was recruited back to Harvard where she was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology in 2011. In 2014, she was promoted to Associate Professor at Harvard.

In September 2015, Dr. Gack moved to the University of Chicago where she has been an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology.

What she does

Dr. Gack’s research is focused on understanding how the intricate interplay between viruses and the host’s surveillance machinery impacts the outcome of viral infection and disease. To achieve this, her laboratory uses a multi-component integrative approach that combines proteomics and gene-targeting screens with molecular, biochemical, cell biological and viral infection studies.

One of her major interests is the control of viral infections by cellular factors of the immune system including innate immune receptors and TRIM proteins, which have important roles in antiviral and proinflammatory cytokine responses.

Another major area of research in her laboratory focuses on the strategies used by viral pathogens – influenza virus, dengue virus and herpesviruses – to block cell-intrinsic immune responses.

News from the Lab

With funds provided by the Giovanni Armenise-Harvard Foundation, Dr. Gack has recently started to investigate the molecular mechanisms by which mosquito-transmitted viruses, such as dengue virus, suppress the innate immune response in humans.

This led to an exciting discovery of a novel immune escape mechanism of dengue virus. Based on detailed characterization of this newly identified viral escape mechanism, the Gack laboratory constructed a mutant dengue virus in which this escape mechanism was eliminated.

This mutant dengue virus is profoundly growth-attenuated and elicits robust innate and adaptive immune responses.

Insight gained from these studies may provide the foundation for developing novel therapeutic strategies for mosquito-transmitted viral infections in humans or new classes of attenuated viruses for vaccines.