Dr. Alejandro Aballay is inaugural recipient of William A. Whitsell Dean’s Leadership Professorship

Aballay investiture

August 6, 2018

Alejandro Aballay, Ph.D., professor and chair of molecular microbiology and immunology, OHSU School of Medicine, was appointed July 30 as the inaugural recipient of the William A. Whitsell Dean's Leadership Professorship. 

School of Medicine Dean Sharon Anderson, M.D., presided over an investiture, attended by Dr. Aballay, Bill and Helen Jo Whitsell, and members of the OHSU Foundation.

Dr. Aballay, recruited to OHSU in August 2017, received his Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from the Nacional de Cuyo University Medical School in Mendoza, Argentina, in 1998. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Washington University School of Medicine, in 1999, on intracellular trafficking. He completed a second postdoctoral fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, in 2002, on molecular pathogenesis under the mentorship of Dr. Frederick Ausubel. Dr. Aballay came to OHSU from Duke University Medical Center where he was professor of molecular genetics and microbiology and director of the Center for Host-Microbial Interactions.

Dr. Alejandro AballayIn addition to direct experience as mentor of graduate and postgraduate students, Dr. Aballay has extensive experience in different aspects related to both medical and graduate education, enhancing research opportunities for groups underrepresented in science, and mentoring faculty. Dr. Aballay has made numerous contributions to the field of host-microbial interactions, focusing historically on bacterial virulence factors and their targets in host cells. More recently, his laboratory pioneered the study of specific neuronal circuits involved in the control of organismal homeostasis, behavioral responses to pathogens, and neural changes induced by infections.

Dr. Aballay's contributions include publications in several journals of broad interest, including Science, Developmental Cell, PNAS, and Current Biology. Dr. Aballay is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a fellow of the AAAS, and a member of multiple editorial boards. Dr. Aballay has recently received a prestigious NIH MERIT Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences for his research project on the role of the nervous system in controlling immunity. Through strategic recruitments and grant applications, Dr. Aballay is strengthening the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, and the neuroinflammation program at OHSU.

Bill and Helen Jo Whitsell are well known for their decades-long commitment to Oregon and the Portland community as business owners and philanthropists. The Whitsells grew Copeland Lumber, a company started by Helen Jo's grandfather in 1912, into the 35th largest in the country with retail outlets in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Arizona. Through the years, they have been active supporters and advocates of OHSU, most recently endowing professorships for Carsten Schultz, Ph.D. and Dr. Aballay. The Whitsells believe that people are OHSU's most important asset and are committed to helping OHSU achieve excellence by recruiting and retaining the very best talent. Their approach as leading university citizens reflects their generosity, pioneering spirit, entrepreneurial approach and visionary commitment.

Pictured (top, left to right): Bill and Helen Jo Whitsell, Dr. Mary Stenzel-Poore, Dr. Aballay, Dean Anderson, Dr. Peter Barr-Gillespie, Sarah Nevue. Bottom photo: Dr. Aballay addresses the audience during investiture ceremony.