Susan Kaech, newly named as the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology, is a leading authority in the area of effector and memory T cell development during viral infections and cancer.
Memory T and B cells constitute the body’s primary system of defense against reoccurring infectious disease and the ability to form these cells is the ultimate goal of vaccination. Kaech’s laboratory aims to understand how memory T cells are generated during infection and vaccination, and why, in some circumstances, an immunization fails to induce long-term T cell immunity. Kaech and her team are also studying how T cells are regulated in tumor microenvironments in order to better understand how their functions become suppressed as they infiltrate tumors and develop new methods of immunotherapy that enhance anti-tumor responses. Their studies are aimed at identifying the signals and genetic pathways that regulate the differentiation of T cells in these different types of environments so that they can design new ways to optimize the formation of highly functional, protective memory T cells to fight infection and cancer.
A graduate of the University of Washington, Kaech earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University. Following postgraduate training in microbiology and immunology at Emory University, she joined the Yale faculty in 2004 as assistant professor of immunobiology. She subsequently held positions as associate professor and professor of immunobiology. Kaech was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the National Institutes of Health in 2007. From 2009 to 2015, Kaech also served as an early career scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The Yale professor has contributed numerous articles to peer-reviewed professional publications. She is the section editor of the Journal of Immunology, an editorial board member of the Journal of Cell Biology and the Annual Review of Immunology, as well as a member of Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Foundation review committee.
Kaech’s additional honors include awards from the Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Foundation, the American Asthma Foundation, the Cancer Research Institute, and the Melanoma Research Alliance.