Dr. Michael Emerman

Dr. Michael Emerman grew up in Columbus, Ohio and received his B.S. in Biochemistry at The Ohio State University. He obtained his Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986 under the guidance of Dr. Howard Temin, a 1975 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, where he used retroviruses to study how gene control elements could interfere with one another. Dr. Emerman continued postdoctoral training at the Pasteur Institute in Paris to work with the co-discoverer of HIV, Luc Montagnier, who was awarded the 2008 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine. During that time, he characterized HIV-2 and discovered the function of one of the key regulatory genes of HIV-1. Since 1989, Dr. Emerman has been a Member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in Seattle, Washington and an Affiliate Professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Global Health at the University of Washington.

Dr. Emerman is an internationally renowned investigator in AIDS research, and he has made significant scientific contributions to the study of the molecular and cellular biology of HIV. His group showed that HIV is different from other viruses in its family by being able to infect non-dividing cells. This property has been exploited by others to develop HIV-like gene transfer vectors. Dr. Emerman’s group also discovered that an HIV protein, Vpr, that causes cell cycle arrest. In more recent years, Dr. Emerman’s lab has focused on the evolutionary battle between viruses and their hosts using HIV as a model for determining why the human innate immune defenses do not function well against HIV. Along with his collaborator, Dr. Harmit Malik at the FHCRC, Emerman has characterized the evolution and function of host antiviral genes and the antagonists against these defenses that encoded by viruses. He invented a name for these studies, “Paleovirology”, to capture the concept that ancient viruses have shaped the human repertoire of antiviral defenses in ways that impact our resistance or susceptibility to modern-day emerging viruses. He has an active lab that continues to study how ancient selection of host genes affects the modern pandemic of HIV.

Dr. Emerman has published over 130 peer-reviewed articles in the field of molecular virology with an emphasis on the biology of HIV. He was the recipient of an American Foundation for AIDS Research Scholar Award, a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Merit Award, and the OSU Center for Retrovirus Research Distinguished Career Award. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Virology and an Associate Editor for PLoS Pathogens. Since 2006 he has been Director of the Molecular and Cellular Biology PhD program at the University of Washington/FHCRC where he also teaches a graduate course called “Human Pathogenic Viruses”.