Professor, Department of Neuroscience
Director, Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG)
School of Medicine, University of Virginia
Dr. Jonathan (Jony) Kipnis’s research group focuses on the complex interactions between the immune system and the central nervous system. The goal is to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of immune cells in central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis after CNS injury and in chronic neurodegenerative conditions. Dr. Kipnis’s research team showed that the immune cells mediate their beneficial effects on the CNS from within the meningeal spaces. After cognitive task performance or in response to CNS injury, meningeal T cells in mice are activated and express high levels of IL-4, which is one of the key molecules mediating beneficial effects of the immune system in the CNS. Elimination of meningeal T cells or their produced IL-4 results in cognitive impairment. The fascination with meningeal immunity and its role in healthy and diseased CNS is what brought the team to study immune cell trafficking in and out of this understudied compartment. These studies have recently resulted in a discovery of meningeal lymphatic vessels that drain the macromolecules and the immune cells from the cerebrospinal fluid/CNS into the deep cervical lymph nodes. The main focus of the Kipnis lab now is to address the role of meningeal lymphatic vessels in regulation of the immune response in different neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Jony Kipnis graduated in 2004 from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where he was a Sir Charles Clore scholar. Upon graduation, he received the Prize of Excellence for doctoral studies awarded by the Feinberg Graduate School of the Weizmann Institute of Science. He is also a recipient of a distinguished prize for excellence awarded by the Israeli Parliament, The Knesset. He was awarded the Robert Ader New Investigator Award for 2011 by the PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society and the 2012 Jordi Folch-Pi award by the American Society for Neurochemistry. Recently, Jony became a Gutenberg Research College Fellow at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Medical Center.