Osaka University, Japan
Professor Shizuo Akira is Director and Professor of WPI Immunology Frontier Research Centre, and also a Professor at the Institute for Microbial Diseases at Osaka University, Japan. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Osaka University. After two years of postdoctoral work at the Department of Immunology, University of California at Berkeley, he started to study IL-6 gene regulation and signalling at the Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology, Osaka University, and cloned transcription factors, NF-IL6(C/EBP beta) and STAT3. He was a Professor at the Department of Biochemistry, Hyogo College of Medicine from 1996 to 1999, where he became involved in Toll-like Receptors research. By generating TLR family knockout mice, he identified ligands of many TLR members. He also demonstrated that the difference in signalling pathways among TLRs is due to selective usage of adaptor molecules such as MyD88 and TRIF. He demonstrated that pathogen-derived RNA is recognized by the cytoplasmic receptor family, besides TLRs, and clarified the molecular mechanism of antiviral response against RNA viruses. His current research interests are in molecular mechanisms of innate immunity and inflammation, which are studied mainly by generating knockout mice.