Joshua Obar, Ph.D., Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Montana State University—Bozeman, has been honored with a 2013 ICAAC Young Investigator Award for his research on factors affecting the regulation of immunological memory responses to infection.
Obar earned his B.A. in Microbiology from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2001 and went on to complete his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Dartmouth College in 2006. He performed his Ph.D. thesis research in Edward Usherwood’s laboratory at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, where his graduate work focused on understanding how latent viral infections affect the formation, maintenance, and function of memory CD8 T cells. Of Obar, Usherwood says, “I have encountered very few young scientists at his level who have such a depth of perception into their chosen field, combined with the intellectual drive and rigor to pursue projects through to completion.” In 2005, his graduate work was recognized by the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) with the Huang Foundation Trainee Achievement Award (now the Life Technologies Trainee Achievement Award). The following year Obar joined Leo Lefrançois’ laboratory at the University of Connecticut Health Center as a postdoctoral fellow, where he received a NRSA postdoctoral fellowship in 2007. During his postdoctoral research he developed the methodology necessary to quantify the number of antigen-specific naïve CD8 T cells within a polyclonal population, which he used to study early events regulating effector and memory CD8 T cell development during numerous infectious diseases.
In 2010, Obar joined the faculty in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Montana State University – Bozeman. Since starting his own laboratory he has been studying the innate immune response in the respiratory tract following viral and fungal infections by trying to understand what regulates the balance of immunity and immunopathology during these infections. Obar’s nominator and Chair of his department at Montana State University, Mark Quinn, said “since coming to Montana State University, Josh has continued to excel in his research on understanding the role of T cells and other leukocytes in the immune response to viral pathogens.” In addition to the Huang Foundation Trainee Achievement Award, Obar has also won a NIH K22 Award and in 2012, he was selected by the AAI Public Policy Fellowship Program. Quinn concludes by saying, “Overall, Obar is an outstanding young investigator with amazing potential for a stellar career in microbiology and infectious diseases.”