LJI closes in on potentially lifesaving breakthroughs

A letter from LJI President and CSO Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D.
Photo portrait of Mitch Kronenberg at La Jolla Institute for Immunology
LJI President and Chief Scientific Officer Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D.

In my many years of doing research in immunology, including 16 years as President and Chief Scientific Officer, there has never been a more thrilling time to study the immune system. Thanks to the groundbreaking research of our La Jolla Institute for Immunology scientists we are moving toward our vision of Life Without Disease®. Diseases we’re attacking at the Institute include heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease, and infectious diseases such as HIV, Zika, and Ebola.

In our cover story on infectious diseases, you’ll see how Institute researchers are developing vaccines and other treatments to address conditions that kill 17 million people annually. Our fundamental research that underlies the basis for protective immune responses is essential for creating vaccines against well-known infections, such as tuberculosis and AIDS, as well as newly emerging diseases such as COVID-19.

In our Q&A, you’ll meet a world-class Institute scientist whose research may soon save millions of lives. Klaus Ley, M.D., is getting closer to perfecting an atherosclerosis prevention vaccine that has already proven to reduce inflammatory plaque, the cause of heart disease, in mice.

In this issue, we also mourn the passing of Howard Grey, M.D., who as President and Chief Scientific Officer from 1996 to 2003, was a signature figure in the history of the Institute. A renowned scientist, Howard recruited some of the world’s leading immunologists, doubled the organization’s size, and enhanced our reputation. La Jolla Institute has continued
to grow in size and reputation, and today is among the top research organizations in the world.

To continue tackling diseases that afflict millions, we’re looking for assistance from anyone who believes in the power of science—and specifically immunology research. While we’re proud of the numerous federal National Institutes of Health grants we’ve been awarded, the truth is we need more support to have the kind of major impact on diseases that we envision.

We can make an extremely compelling case for support because there isn’t a person who hasn’t been touched by diseases related to immune system function, either themselves, their family members, friends, or colleagues. When you support the Institute, you partner with talented researchers who, among many efforts, are leveraging the power of the immune system to create a potential vaccine to halt atherosclerosis, cure cancers through immunotherapy, develop vaccines to protect against HIV and dengue, and more.

An infusion of support from the community will enable the Institute to recruit additional world-class investigators, purchase research equipment to open new insights, and expand our already leading-edge use of bioinformatics and creation of huge databases that are changing the face of immunology.

With your help we look forward to an even more exciting future with greater discoveries and impact on human health. As always, we appreciate our wonderful Institute partners—including individual donors, foundations, and federal funding sources—who play such a crucial role in supporting our research. We are indeed closing in on potentially lifesaving breakthroughs in treating many of the world’s most devastating diseases and moving toward our vision of Life Without Disease®.

Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D.
President & Chief Scientific Officer
La Jolla Institute for Immunology