Yutaka Tagaya, M.D., PH.D.
Professor, Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine
For the past 15 years, Dr. Tagaya has been studying T cell- and cytokine-biology. He started his work as a post-doctoral fellow at the NCI in Dr. Thomas Waldmann’s group. After several years of successful research advances, Dr. Tagaya found the opportunity of establishing his own research group consisting of dedicated post-doctoral fellows and students in the same branch. Dr. Tagaya’s group has made seminal discoveries on the unique functions of cytokine IL-15 (trans-presentation paradigm) and used this model to study the development and functional differentiation of NK and T cells. His group has also generated several cytokine transgenic mice (IL-15, IL-7, and IL-2 transgenic mice, IL-2-GFP knock-in mouse in collaboration) and studied the immunological and pathological consequences of the overproduction of these cytokines. Recent work has also revealed a special and unique function of a transcription factor IRF-8 in the development of effector/cytotoxic CD8 T cells.
Since Dr. Tagaya joined the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland as a faculty member (assistant professor), Dr. Tagaya has been running his own research lab focusing on the development of unique multi-cytokine inhibiting peptides for Bioniz’s BNZ class technology targeting autoimmune and inflammatory disease. These investigations have also involved the study of T cell transformation mechanism caused by HTLV-1 in the context of a human leukemia (ATL; adult T-cell leukemia).
At the same time, Dr. Tagaya has been in charge of creating and running the IHV flow-core which helps the IHV community to run polychromatic flow-cytometry as well as conducting various types of cell-sorting, supervising the entire operation of the core. Dr. Tagaya’s core has special permission to sort infectious (such as HIV-1 and HTLV-1) cells and is the only flow lab in the University of Maryland Baltimore which is capable of conducting such sorting.
Having originally started his research under the influences of his first mentor (Dr. Junji Yodoi) who was a hematology-resident when he discovered the first case of ATL (Yodoi et al. 1974, New Engl J Med), Dr. Tagaya’s drive to address cancers and immune cell proliferation come from a deep desire to find an effective cure for this deadly leukemia.