Dr. Davis, Director of the Stanford Institute for Immunology, Transplantation and Infection (ITI), is a professor of microbiology and immunology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He is well known for identification in the 1980s of the elusive T-Cell receptor genes, which allow T lymphocytes to fight disease causing microbes, and he and his group have made many subsequent discoveries about this type of molecule and how it functions. He and his group have also discovered a number of other important genes expressed by lymphocytes, including BLIMP-1, the first master regulatory gene in these cells and, with Dr. Alan Krensky, Granulysin, an important natural defence against tuberculosis. Dr. Davis has also pioneered the development of diagnostic assays for immune function, first with the development of peptide-MHC tetramers which allows the precise quantitation and characterization of T cells from clinical samples and more recently, with Dr. Patrick Brown and Dr. Yueh-hsiu Chien the invention of a high throughput cellular array system, which can obtain information about many different types of blood cells simultaneously.
Dr. Davis received his BA in molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University with Departmental Honors and his PhD in molecular biology from the California Institute of Technology where he was also the recipient of the Milton and Frances Clauser Doctoral prize. He spent three years as a postdoctoral and staff fellow at the National Institutes of Health before coming to Stanford in 1983. He has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 1987 and was associate Chair and Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology from 1999-2004. In 2004 he was named Director of the Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. From 2001 to 2006 he was the Burt and Marion Avery Chair in Immunology.
Dr. Davis has received numerous honors and awards, including the Behring-Heidelberger Prize from the American Association of Immunologists, the Alfred P. Sloan Prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, and the King Faisal International Prize in Medicine. He was a PEW Scholar for four years and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and The Institute of Medicine. He has served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Damon Runyon-Walter Wincell Cancer Foundation and as a member of the Allergy and Immunology Study Section at the National Institutes of Health, and has published more than 250 articles on his research.
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