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Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, Ph.D. named 2022 AAAS Fellow

Immunologist recognized for her achievements in the field of innate immunity, developing new concepts in inflammasome biology and inflammatory cell death, PANoptosis

Memphis, Tennessee, January 31, 2023

Photo of award-winning female scientist Dr. Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti wearing a lab coat.

Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, Ph.D., St. Jude Department of Immunology, is a 2022 fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, Ph.D., vice chair and Rose Marie Thomas Endowed Chair of  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Department of Immunology, will be recognized as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals. To achieve this honor, Kanneganti has made distinguished contributions to our fundamental knowledge of innate immunity, the body’s first line of defense against disease. She has also been a pioneer in the field of inflammasome biology, advancing cellular and molecular understanding of innate immunity, inflammation and cell death in health and disease.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized as a Fellow,” said Kanneganti. “I am privileged to conduct research at St. Jude, which is a leader in the innate immune field where we can have a major translational impact; and this distinction reflects the outstanding work of my entire team.”

Kanneganti is a founding member of the NLRP3 inflammasome field, and her research on inflammasome regulation led her to identify new concepts in innate immune cell death. Among these is the identification of a new inflammatory cell death pathway, PANoptosis, and she continues to describe its implications in health and disease. Now, she is among the prestigious rolls of scientists, engineers and innovators who have been elected as 2022 Fellows for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements throughout their careers.

“This is a distinct honor in the scientific community for Dr. Kanneganti,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and CEO. “She has made lasting contributions to our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of infectious and inflammatory diseases, including cancers. With that information, other researchers and clinicians are uncovering new avenues of treatments, and more importantly, developing therapies that maximize cures and minimize long-term side effects.”

Kanneganti began her career in research as a PhD student studying plant pathogens and fungal toxins. She went on to complete postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Wisconsin and the Ohio State University studying fungal genetics, plant innate immunity and cell death. She then transitioned from plants at University of Michigan, where she began studying mammalian innate immune sensors called NLRs, which were discovered based on their similarity to plant NLRs. Kanneganti joined St. Jude as an assistant member in the Immunology Department in 2007 to continue her foundational work on innate immune sensing, regulation and cell death mechanisms. In recognition for her seminal contributions to the field, she has received several awards, including the AAI-BD Biosciences Investigator Award, the Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research, as well as being inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and being named one of the world’s most highly cited researchers, by Clarivate/Web of Science, for six years running.

A tradition dating back to 1874, election as an AAAS Fellow is a lifetime honor, and all Fellows are expected to maintain the highest standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity. Distinguished past honorees include W.E.B. DuBois, Ellen Ochoa, Steven Chu, Grace Hopper, Alan Alda, Mae Jemison and Ayanna Howard.


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening disorders. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 60 years ago. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. To learn more, visit, read St. Jude Progress, a digital magazine, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.