2020 Milstein Young Investigator Award Winners:

Seymour Milstein (July 21, 1920 – October 2, 2001)
Philip, Vivian and Connie Milstein (L-R)

Aaron M Ring, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Immunobiology
Yale University School of Medicine
New Haven, United States

Aaron Ring received his undergraduate training at Yale University and entered the Stanford Medical Scientist Training Program for his MD and PhD degrees. At Stanford, he worked in the laboratories of Christopher Garcia and Irving Weissman to use structure-based protein engineering to develop new cytokine and immune checkpoint therapies for cancer, including therapies in the CD47 and IL-2 pathways that are now in clinical development. Aaron joined the faculty of the Yale Department of Immunobiology in 2016 as the Robert T. McCluskey Yale Scholar. The focus of his research is to understand and manipulate the activity of immune receptors using precision immunopharmacology and systems immunology. He has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including a Pew-Stewart Scholar award from the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award (DP5).

Oral Presentation: An engineered Interleukin-18 variant expands intratumoral stem-like CD8 T cells and prevents TOX- mediated T cell exhaustion



Ring Lab

Elia Tait Wojno, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Immunology, University of Washington
Seattle, USA

Dr. Elia Tait Wojno pursues a life-long passion for immunology research as an Assistant Professor in the University of Washington Department of Immunology. Elia received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, working with Dr. Christopher Hunter in the School of Veterinary Medicine to examine how cytokines regulate immunity to the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. She went on complete a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. David Artis in the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College, focusing on cytokine and prostaglandin responses during helminth infection and allergic disease. As an Assistant Professor, first at Cornell University and now at UW, she continues her work in dissecting innate and adaptive immune responses following helminth parasite infection and during allergy, with a special emphasis on cytokines and prostaglandins. Her work aims to inform efforts to develop new therapies to combat infectious diseases, particularly diseases caused by parasite infection, and to limit allergic inflammation.

Oral Presentation: The prostaglandin D2 receptor CRTH2 suppresses epithelial responses during intestinal helminth infection




Tait Wojno on PubMed

Zhenyu Zhong, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Immunology,
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, USA

Dr. Zhenyu Zhong is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Immunology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, who is working in the area of innate immunity. He obtained his Ph.D. degree from Loyola University Chicago in late 2013 and was recruited to UT Southwestern Medical Center in the fall of 2018 following his postdoctoral training at University of California, San Diego. During his PhD and postdoctoral training, Dr. Zhong has made several fundamental discoveries that contribute to establishing mitochondria as the command center for innate immunity. While at UT Southwestern, Dr. Zhong has built an outstanding research program centered on understanding how mitochondria in myeloid cells sense tissue damage, initiate inflammatory response, and orchestrate tissue repair/regeneration to restore tissue homeostasis. Additionally. Dr. Zhong’s group is also interested in understanding how dysregulation of inflammation promotes the development of chronic liver disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

Oral Presentation: Cytosolic DNTP catabolism prevents NLRP3 inflammasome overactivation



The Milstein family–Vivian, her late husband Seymour, their son Philip and their daughter Constance–are well-known philanthropists in the United States and abroad. For more than 50 years they have provided essential support for institutions and organizations at a time when funds from government agencies have been drying up. Seymour Milstein’s early insights into the critical importance of interferons led him to Sidney Pestka, M.D., one of the scientists at the forefront of interferon research and an active member of the former ISICR, and the Milstein family’s tradition of support for organizations dedicated to patient care and scientific research, motivated him and his wife Vivian to establish The Milstein Awards in 1988, two years after interferon was first approved for the treatment of hairy cell leukemia. Since that time, it has been widely recognized that interferons and the larger class of cytokines play critical roles in the development and progression of many major diseases including cancer, viral diseases such as hepatitis and influenza, and autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis and lupus. Milstein’s son, Philip Milstein, continued to generously support this award through 2020, along with The Milstein Young Investigator Awards, for which these 2020 award winners were recognized for their impact on interferon and cytokine research early in their careers, and The Milstein Travel Awards, through 2021, which give those who may not otherwise be able to attend the Annual Meeting of the ICIS an opportunity to share the most current interferon and cytokine knowledge with peers around from the world.

Among the research and healthcare-focused institutions that the Milstein family has championed are the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center; Columbia University and the University College of Physicians and Surgeons; Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center; the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services; The Cheryl and Philip Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning at Barnard College, and CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy).