St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital today announced that Victor J. Torres, Ph.D., an internationally renowned microbiologist and immunologist, has been selected as the inaugural chair of a new Department of Host-Microbe Interactions. This department will establish a world-leading effort focused on exploring the fundamental biology of the interaction of infectious agents with the human host. The discoveries made through this new effort will advance our ability to more effectively treat, as well as prevent infectious diseases.
“Infectious diseases remain one of the leading causes of death globally for children under the age of five,” James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and CEO, said. “In our FY22-27 strategic plan, we developed a roadmap to establish a world-leading research effort in infectious diseases that affect children. It calls for collaboration and leadership across multiple programs to advance our mission. I’m thrilled that Dr. Torres has taken the helm of this new department to address the challenges of infectious diseases through basic and translational research.”
Torres joins St. Jude from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, where he was the C.V. Starr Professor of Microbiology and Director of the Anti-Microbial Resistant Pathogens Program. A world leader in microbiology and host-pathogen interactions, Torres’s research efforts have focused on interactions between pathogenic bacteria and the mammalian host, with an emphasis on multidrug-resistant bacteria.
“Dr. Torres’ expertise and leadership will help St. Jude build a world-class center where we can lead the way in innovation and breakthroughs to change the way infectious diseases are identified and treated, leading to the generation of much-needed therapies,” said J. Paul Taylor, M.D., Ph.D., scientific director at St. Jude.
Torres, who starts in July, is actively recruiting world-class investigators to undertake research to learn key information about fundamental biological, molecular and chemical processes of infectious diseases. The Dept. of Host-Microbe Interactions will work closely with the Dept. of Infectious Diseases, led by Octavio Ramilo, M.D., which applies research discoveries in the clinic.
“The opportunity to create a new Department in a world-class institution doesn’t come around every day,” said Torres. “I’m honored to be able to do it at St. Jude, where research and discovery are at the center of the mission, and where there is already a strong foundation in bacterial and viral respiratory research. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Torres earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he also served as a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Amongst his accolades, Torres is an editor for the American Society of Microbiology’s Infection and Immunity and mBio journals and an associate editor for the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal Science Advances. He’s been awarded the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease fellowship, and has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was the recipient of a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as the “Genius Grant.”
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 stjude.org, read St. Jude Progress, a digital magazine, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.