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Jenny P. Ting, PhD, was selected as the 2020-2021 President of the American Association of Immunologists. Established in 1913, AAI has become the most prestigious association of immunologists in the world with nearly 8,000 scientists in 71 countries.

Starting July 1, 2020, Jenny P. Ting, PhD, the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology and member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, will begin her new role as president of the American Association of Immunologists (AAI).

The American Association of Immunologists (AAI) is the largest organization of immunologists in the United States. The society is led by a council of eight scientists elected by voting AAI members with a goal of advancing the knowledge of immunology and its related disciplines. AAI honors and promotes the research achievements of more than 1,000 scientists through fellowships, career awards, travel grants and outreach programs. AAI owns and publishes The Journal of Immunology, dedicated to publishing novel, peer-reviewed findings in all areas experimental immunology, as well as, ImmunoHorizons, an open access, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the science of immunology.

AAI’s eight-member council consists of four officers, a president, vice-president, secretary-treasurer, and past president, and four additional councilors. In Ting’s new role as president, she plans to help continue to promote the application of immunology to understand health and diseases for scientists nationally and internationally, especially during the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic.

“During this crisis, I want to make sure that the field of immunology is being heard. In addition to basic and clinical science in immunology, I think we should try to be better at scientific communication and education, so people will understand what scientific discovery is about and understand the importance of immunology” said Ting.

Working in the field of immunology for more than three decades, Ting has achieved distinction in the study of the body’s innate immune system, which signals the rest of the immune system when a threat is detected. In cancer and autoimmunity, the study of immunology has led to transformative treatments for both groups of diseases. However, Ting stresses that much needs to be done. In the world of infectious diseases, immunology plays an important role, starting with vaccinology and host pathogen interaction.

“The components of vaccination that we really want to stimulate are all the cells within the immune system. Every virus has specific properties and we have to figure out what kind of immune response they need to elicit to result in an effective vaccine. The immunology side is very critical, and we need to work with the infectious disease experts, as well as virologists, to figure out the best route to a vaccine,” Ting said.

Ting, who joined the faculty of UNC’s School of Medicine in 1984 as an assistant professor, is also the director of the Center for Translational Immunology.