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Rafi Ahmed, PhD
Director, Emory Vaccine Center; Charles Howard Candler Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine

Dr. Ahmed is a virologist and immunologist, and an internationally recognized expert on T cell survival, function and the development of immunological memory. His work includes discoveries related to how immune memory cells are created, how long they survive and how factors such as IL-2 and IL-15 relate to these responses within different microenvironments within an organism and the relationship between chronic viral infection and ongoing immunity. His work impacts the development of therapeutics in infectious disease, particularly in the setting of viral infection and viral persistence to cancer and cancer immunology. Dr. Ahmed is the author or co-author of more than 300 peer-reviewed articles, has received numerous awards, including the William B. Coley Award in 2017 and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Ahmed received his PhD degree in microbiology from Harvard University. Before coming to Emory, he was a Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine.



Mark M. Davis, PhD
Avery Family Professor of Immunology; Director of the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation, and Infection; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Davis is one of the world’s leading authorities on T cell recognition. His research focuses on how T cells and B cells recognize antigen and behave following such interactions. This includes the structural and biochemical underpinnings of T cell receptor binding and signal transduction and the dynamics of molecular movement at the T cell/antigen-presenting cell interface, in both preclinical models and humans. His discoveries include identifying the T-cell receptor gene, development of peptide-MHC tetramers to study T cell populations capable of recognizing particular targets and elucidation and quantification of specific events at the immunologic synapse required for T cell function. Dr. Davis is the author or co-author of more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and books, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the William B. Coley Award in 2000.

Dr. Davis received his BA degree in molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University and his PhD degree in molecular biology from the California Institute of Technology. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institutes of Health prior to joining Stanford.



Gordon J. Freeman, PhD
Professor of Medical Oncology (DFCI) and Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Freeman is renowned for his work characterizing the PD-L1/PD-1 interaction and elucidating the functional impact of inhibiting this interaction on T cells in health and disease. Dr. Freeman’s research identified the ligands for the major pathways that control the immune response by inhibiting T cell activation or stimulating T cell activation. He showed that engagement of PD-1 by PD-L1 or PD-L2 inhibited T cell activation, cytokine production, and cytolytic activity whereas blockade enhanced these activities. Dr. Freeman’s work led directly to the development of a successful strategy for cancer immunotherapy: block the pathways that tumors use to turn off the immune response. Dr. Freeman has published over 300 scientific papers and holds over 50 US patents on immunotherapies. He has received numerous awards, including the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology in 2014 and the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize for the discovery and development of PD-1 pathway blockade in 2017.

Dr. Freeman received his PhD degree in 1979 from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard prior to joining the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.