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News Releases

For Immediate Release

Physician-Scientist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Awarded Endowed Chair Named In Memory of Nobel Laureate

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC announced today that Jay K. Kolls, MD, has been awarded the inaugural UPMC Niels K. Jerne Endowed Chair in Pediatrics, named in honor of the Nobel laureate immunologist.

Dr. Kolls is a professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and chief of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy, and Immunology and of the Laboratory of Lung Immunology and Host Defense at Children’s.

“This honor is a testament to Dr. Kolls’ significant accomplishments as a scientist, clinician and educator in the areas of lung disease and immunology,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, physician-in-chief and scientific director at Children’s and the Vira I. Heinz Professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “His research has the potential to lead to improved treatments for lung diseases ranging from asthma to cystic fibrosis.”

An internationally recognized immunologist, Dr. Kolls has contributed significantly to the understanding of the mechanisms of lung host defenses in normal and immunocompromised individuals. He currently is directing five National Institutes of Health-funded research projects involving lung immunology.

His research interests include gene therapy, lung immunology, lung host defenses, tumor necrosis factor, pneumonia, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, ethanol, gene expression, polymerase chain reaction and molecular biology.

On Oct. 2, 2006, it was announced that researchers from Children’s and Pitt, led by Dr. Kolls, were awarded a $12.8 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to improve the diagnosis and predict the therapeutic response of several devastating lung diseases.

In the Journal of Clinical Investigation in November 2005, Dr. Kolls reported results of a study in which his research team developed a vaccine platform that potentially could be used to prevent infections such as influenza, smallpox and pneumonia in patients with compromised immune systems.

Recently, Dr. Kolls’ research team published results of studies identifying a highly specific pathway that causes inflammation in lung tissue, a discovery that could be beneficial in the development of more targeted treatments for cystic fibrosis. Results of these studies were published online last month in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology and in June 2005 in the Journal of Immunology. In September 2005, Kolls and colleagues published results of research in the Journal of Experimental Medicine showing that this inflammatory pathway also regulates lung immunity against bacterial pneumonia.

Dr. Kolls’ endowed chair is named in memory of Niels K. Jerne, a Danish immunologist who served as a professor of microbiology and chair of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh from 1962–66. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1984 for his research of the immune system and the discovery of the principle for the production of monoclonal antibodies.

For more information about Dr. Kolls or Children’s Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, please visit

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
February 15, 2008
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Last Update
February 15, 2008