Akiko Iwasaki

Akiko Iwasaki (born in 1970) is a Professor of Department of Immunobiology and Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale University.[1] She is also a principal investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her research interests include innate immunity, autophagy, inflammasomes, sexually transmitted infections, herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus, respiratory virus infections, influenza infection, T cell immunity, and commensal bacteria.

Akiko Iwasaki
EducationUniversity of Toronto, National Institutes of Health
AwardsNational Academy of Medicine Elected Member
Scientific career
FieldsImmunobiology, Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology, Developmental Biology
InstitutionsYale University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018.[2]


Iwasaki was born and raised in Iga, Japan. After high school she moved to Toronto, Canada, where in 1994, she received her bachelor's degree in biochemistry and physics from the University of Toronto. She had hopes of becoming a mathematician or physicist like her father. However, her interests changed after taking an immunology class.[3] She earned her doctoral degree in immunology from the University of Toronto in 1998. Iwasaki did her Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. In 2000, she started her own lab at Yale University.[3]

Major contributionsEdit

Herpes simplex virions, TEM. Herpes simplex virus is one of the many viruses Iwasaki studies.
Making of a DNA vaccine. Iwasaki investigated how DNA vaccination elicit an immune response.

While working on her PhD project, Iwasaki was among the first to show that antigen-presenting cells were in the blood, not the muscle. She investigated how DNA vaccination elicits an immune response. At the time scientists thought muscle cells were essential for alerting the immune system of foreign proteins, or antigens, coded for by the vaccines because the DNA vaccines work best when injected into the muscle.[3]

Iwasaki's research continues to focus on understanding innate immunity and how that information is used to produce protective adaptive immunity. Iwasaki and her team study immune responses to influenza in the lungs and herpes simplex virus in the genital tract. Overall, the goal is to design effective vaccines or microbiocides for the prevention of transmission of viral and bacterial pathogens.[1]

According to Google Scholar, one of her publications, "Toll-like receptor control of the adaptive immune response,"[4] has been cited over 3,298 times and was published in Nature Immunology in October 2004. In January 2015, one of Iwasaki's studies was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, another prestigious journal.[1] The study, "Temperature-dependent innate defense against the common cold virus limits viral replication at warm temperature in mouse airway cells",[5] investigates the relationship between temperature and immune responses.


  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in Biomedical Sciences, Burroughs Wellcome Fund (2000)
  • Ethel Donaghue Women's Health Program Investigator Award, Ethel Donaghue Women's Health Program (2003)
  • Wyeth Lederle Young Investigator Award, Infectious Diseases Society of America (2003)
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in Pathogenesis in Infectious Diseases, Burroughs Wellcome Fund (2005) [1]
  • BD Biosciences Investigator Award, American Associations of Immunologist (AAI) (2011)[clarification needed]
  • Eli Lilly and Company Research Award, American Society of Microbiology (2012)
  • Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon & Cytokine Research, International Cytokine and Interferon Society (2019)[6]


  • Iwasaki, A (2012). "Innate immune recognition of HIV-1". Immunity. 37 (3): 389–398. doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2012.08.011. PMC 3578946. PMID 22999945.
  • Iwasaki, A; Pillai, P (2014). "Innate immunity to influenza virus infection". Nature Reviews Immunology. 14 (5): 315–328. doi:10.1038/nri3665. PMC 4104278. PMID 24762827.
  • Iwasaki, A.; Medzhitov, R. (2010). "Regulation of adaptive immunity by the innate immune system". Science. 327 (5963): 291–295. Bibcode:2010Sci...327..291I. doi:10.1126/science.1183021. PMC 3645875. PMID 20075244.
  • Iwasaki, A.; Medzhitov, R. (2004). "Toll-like receptor control of the adaptive immune responses". Nature Immunology. 5 (4): 987–995. doi:10.1038/ni1112. PMID 15454922.
  • Foxman, E. F.; Storer, J. A.; Fitzgerald, M. E.; Wasik, B. R.; Hou, L.; Zhao, H.; Iwasaki, A. (2015). "Temperature-dependent innate defense against the common cold virus limits viral replication at warm temperature in mouse airway cells". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (3): 827–832. Bibcode:2015PNAS..112..827F. doi:10.1073/pnas.1411030112. PMC 4311828. PMID 25561542.


  1. ^ a b c d "Akiko Iwasaki PhD". Yale University Biological & Biomedical Sciences. Yale University. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  2. ^ https://news.yale.edu/2018/05/01/six-yale-professors-elected-national-academy-sciences
  3. ^ a b c "Akiko Iwasaki, PhD". Howard Hughes Medical Institute Our Scientists. Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  4. ^ Iwasaki, Akiko. "Toll-like receptor control of the adaptive immune response" (PDF). Nature Immunology. Nature Publishing Group. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  5. ^ Iwasaki, Akiko (2015). "Temperature-dependent innate defense against the common cold virus limits viral replication at warm temperature in mouse airway cells". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (3): 827–32. Bibcode:2015PNAS..112..827F. doi:10.1073/pnas.1411030112. PMC 4311828. PMID 25561542. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  6. ^ "2019 Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research". International Cytokine & Interferon Society. 2019-04-22. Retrieved 2019-04-23.