Laimins Named MicrobiologyâImmunology Chair
Laimonis A. “Lou” Laimins, PhD, professor of microbiology—immunology and a faculty member at Northwestern University’s medical school since 1994, has been appointed department chair, effective June 1. He had served as interim chair since January 2004.
Born in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, Dr. Laimins earned his BS degree in physics from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, followed by an MS degree in physics from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. After a stint as a new product development engineer at General Electric, he entered graduate school at the University of Chicago where he completed his PhD degree in biophysics and theoretical biology in 1981.
As a Damon Runyan–Walter Winchell Cancer Fund Fellow from 1981â83, he conducted research in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the National Cancer Institute, then served as a staff fellow in the Virus Tumor Biology Section there until 1985. Before coming to Northwestern in 1994, he rose through the ranks to associate professor of molecular genetics and cell biology at the University of Chicago. Dr. Laimins also holds an appointment in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences as professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, and cell biology.
Dr. Laimins is a nationally recognized expert in molecular virology and his research interests include the pathogenesis of human papillomavirus (HPV) and epithelial differentiation. HPVs infect the cutaneous and mucosal epithelium, and specific types of HPV have been linked to the development of cervical cancer. Some of Dr. Laimins’ recent research demonstrated that the binding of class 1 histone deacetylases to HPV E7 proteins directly modulates viral replication through its activation of E2F2, a protein involved in cell cycle control and tumor suppression. The E2F2 protein may thus be a possible target for antiviral therapies.
Dr. Laimins succeeds Patricia G. Spear, PhD, professor of microbiology—immunology, who had served as department chair for 16 years.