The Infectious Diseases
Division is delighted to announce that our faculty member Charles Dinarello has
received the University of Colorado’s highest distinction, University
remarkable career includes the following list of key accomplishments:
cloning and characterization of the first member of a major class of
central regulators of the inflammation and the immune system (the
Interleukins, of which there are now at least 100 distinct genes ).
publications as of September 2015 (712 original research
articles, 302 reviews editorials and book chapters).
honorary degrees conferred by universities in 7 countries.
major scientific prizes for his contributions to science and medicine,
conferred by award committees spread over 7 countries, inlcuding the Paul
Ehrlich Prize, the Novartis Prize in Clinical Immunology, and the Crafoord
Prize, which he received from the King of Sweden in Stockholm.
to U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1998.
by Institute for Scientific Information as the fourth-most cited scientist
in the world in a two decade period (1983-2002) and as one of the 400-most
influential biomedical researchers among over one million considered
between 1996-2011, and the only one from Colorado.
nominated for the Lasker and Nobel Prizes for his singular discoveries and
contributions to cytokine biology.
of over 50 investigators, many of whom are now recognized experts in their
of the above was supported by a single National Institutes of Health R01
Grant (“Pathogenesis of Fever in Humans”), which he has renewed
continuously for 35 years.
graduated from Boston University in 1965 and then received his M.D. degree from
Yale University in 1969, which was followed by residency and chief residency in
pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1971 he went to the NIH,
where he initiated the trailblazing scientific career that he has pursued
since. He became an NIH Senior Investigator by 1975. At the time, in the early
1970s, the causes of fever and indeed the bases of inflammation and host
response to infection at the cellular and systemic levels were essentially
scientific black boxes. In a creative tour de force over the next 15 years, he
discovered, purified, cloned the cDNA for, and characterized the essential
biology of “human leucocytic pyrogen,” a.k.a, “the fever molecule,” which was
later named Interleukin-1 (IL-1). As you know, IL-1 is now recognized as a
central physiological actor in the mammalian response to infection, including
triggering fever, the accompanying “flu-like symptoms,” and a cascade of
crucial immune system repsonses. His vision that cytokines such as IL-1 would
have pleiotropic effects rather than single or narrow end-organ effects was prescient.
His cloning of the IL-1
cDNA had multiple follow-on effects for the field. To mention just a few, it
first of all made it possible to identify the receptor for this cytokine. The
cytoplasmic domain of the IL‑1 receptor was subsequently found to reside
withing the Toll protein of Drosophila, which opened a new field of
investigation. It was further established that the functional cytoplasmic
domain of the Toll-like Receptors (TLR) for microbial products is the same as
the functional domain of the IL‑1 receptor. This domain (Toll-IL‑1 receptor
domain, or TIR) connected the biology of IL‑1 to TLR responses, most of which
are inflammatory and strongly resemble IL‑1 responses.
In 1981, he also
identified a specific inhibitor of IL‑1 (the IL‑1 receptor antagonist known
today as anakinra). Anakinra is used to treat chronic inflammatory diseases
that are not responsive to corticosteroids, immunosuppressive agents or TNF
His productivity has
been extraordinary by any standard: he has published over 1,000 peer-reviewed
articles. Three fourths of the papers -- over 700 -- are primary research
articles that report original scientific data. His work has had substantive
impact in many areas, including inflammation, sepsis, immunology (both innate
and adaptive systems), HIV-1 research, programmed cell death, autophagy,
biologies of many subsequently identified cytokines, autoimmunity, heart
disease, liver disease, the role of alpha-1-antrypsin in inflammation and
transplnated organ rejection, the physiology of pregnancy, and aging
Dr. Dinarello left the
NIH in 1977 and after sojourns on the faculties at Tufts and MIT, he was
recruited here to the University of Colorado School in 1996 as Professor of
Medicine and Immunology. His career here was energetic and consistently
prolific and he continues to publish original work at the highest levels. For
example, in 2014 he published papers in PLoS Pathogens, PNAS, and Nature
Communications (the latter on Interleukin-37, the function of which his
laboratory first defined in a 2010 Nature Immunology paper). All the while he
has has shown depth and persistence, continuing to further the science of IL-1,
the IL-1 family and related cytokines, while making significant contributions
in other areas.
Remarkably, the NIH R01
grant he first obtained 35 years ago for his work on IL-1 is still active and
it has essentially been the prinicipal support for his entire scientific oeuvre
during these three and a half decades of unparalleled scientific productivity.
It is fair to say that in Charles Dinarello’s R01 AI015614 (“Pathogenesis of
Fever in Humans”), the NIH has likely funded its single most productive R01
grant ever. He has trained over 50 investigators, many of whom have gone on to
highly productive scientific careers.
He was elected to the
U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1998. In addition, he was made a
foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences in 2010. (He has
also maintained a productive second laboratory in Holland, at Radboud
University, for a number of years, which has further contributed to his
worldwide impact on the education and training of young scientists). He is a
member of the Board of Governors of the Weizmann Institute (Israel) and Ben
Gurion University (Israel) and former Vice President of the American Society of
Clinical Investigation and President of the International Cytokine Society.
He has received honorary degrees from the University of Marseille
(France), the Weizmann Institute (Israel), the University of Frankfurt
(Germany) and Roosevelt University (USA), Albany Medical College (USA), Radboud
University (Netherlands) and Trinity College (Ireland). In November 2014,
he received a doctorate honaris causa from the University of Bonn (Germany).
For his scientific
contributions, he has received many prestigious awards. (By the way, he donates
his award and prize funds to The Interleukin Foundation, a charitable
foundation he established in 2009, which supports research on cytokines to
young investigators). Prizes recieved include the Squibb Award (USA), Ernst
Jung Prize in Medicine (Germany), Gold Medal of the Heilmeyer Society for
Internal Medicine (Germany), Chirone Prize (Italian National Academy of
Medicine), Carol Nachman Prize (Germany), Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashdid al Maktoum
Award (United Arab Emirates), Beering Prize (USA), Albany Prize in Medical
Research (USA), Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
(Sweden), Paul Ehrlich Prize (Germany), Bonfils-Stanton Prize (USA), the
Novartis Prize in Clinical Immunology (Switzerland) and in 2012, the Bonazinga
Award (USA). In November 2013, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award
of the Eicosanoid Foundation for his pioneering studies on the role of lipids
in cytokine-mediated inflammation. In June, 2014, he received the Drexel Prize
Quite a story!
Eric M. Poeschla, MD
Professor of Medicine
Tim Gill Endowed Chair
in HIV Research
Head, Division of
University of Colorado
School of Medicine