Jacob S. Yount is the 2023 ICIS Mentorship Award Winner

Jacob S. Yount is the 2023 ICIS Mentorship Award Winner

Jacob S. Yount, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, The Ohio State University, College of Medicine; Co-Director Viruses and Emerging Pathogens Program, OSU Infectious Diseases Institute, Columbus, USA
Twitter: @YountLabOSU

Jacob S. Yount is the 2023 ICIS Mentorship Award Winner in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of interferon and viral immunity research through not only his own seminal discoveries and scientific accomplishment, but also his ardent sponsorship and relentless championship of the junior faculty he has helped in the establishment and success of their own independent research programs, particularly during the COVID-19 restrictions which could have delayed their productivity.

The Awards Presentation will take place during Cytokines 2023: 11th Annual Meeting of the International Cytokine & Interferon Society, at the Divani Caravel Hotel, in Athens, Greece, beginning at 5:00 PM on Sunday, October 15, 2023.

Nominating Mentees:

Adriana Forero, PhD & Emily Hemann, PhD, Both started as Assistant Professors, Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University in August of 2020.

“During our start as Assistant Professors in August of 2020, Jacob was on campus facilitating campus-wide COVID research: directing the preparation of viral transport media used in COVID testing for the entire state of Ohio, personally providing hands-on training to new BSL3 facility users, and supporting campus-wide COVID-related grant applications. Jacob selflessly offered technical expertise and support to the rapidly expanding number of research groups undertaking SARS-CoV-2 studies on our campus. Despite these responsibilities, and out of his own volition, Jacob took time in anticipation of our arrival, to provide guidance on necessary onboarding processes and to mentor us through the transition into our first faculty appointments. In addition, COVID restrictions led to limited interactions with colleagues and trainees due to social distancing requirements. Understanding how a strained supply chain would disproportionately affect new labs, Jacob provided us with reagents and equipment needed to undertake initial experiments in a wet lab. He even took on the effort to help us navigate contacts for equipment, ordering, hiring, and other procedures to help us set up our labs, preventing COVID-related delays in our productivity. Jacob has aided us in establishing our labs and in achieving independent papers and grants.”

Dr. Namal Liyanage, Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity adds: “Jacob is an amazing individual, both professionally and personally. He helped me from the very first day that I started my position at OSU. He has guided me and helped me in many ways, including ordering lab equipment, personnel recruitments, and sorting issues with IRB and IACUC. He allowed me to teach a lecture in his class in the first semester I started at OSU so that I could meet the first-year graduate students. He has a very positive attitude toward resolving many administrative issues, which helped me tremendously. I can think of no person who better helps junior faculty than Jacob, and I highly support his nomination for the ICIS Mentor Award.”

Dr. Yount’s enthusiasm and dedication to the mentorship of his colleagues extends beyond the halls of his department:

Dr. Tamar Gur, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Neuroscience, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Director of the MSTP program has also benefited from Dr. Yount’s guidance. She adds: “Jacob Yount encapsulates all that is best about working at OSU- he is incredibly generous, collaborative, and knowledgeable. He cares deeply not only about the research but about people as well, going above and beyond constantly. I can confidently say that without him we would not have succeeded in publishing one of my favorite studies to come out of my lab, and I am inspired by his work ethic and citizenship.” When asked how he finds time to selflessly provide guidance and support to numerous faculty across our University you would likely hear him say: “I want you succeed so that I can be surrounded by great scientists.”

Alex Compton, PhD, Tenure-track Investigator, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health – was a postdoctoral fellow at Institut Pasteur in France when he first sought out advice and experimental assistance from Dr. Yount, who’s contribution to his second paper, which was published in EMBO Reports in 2016, was pivotal and led to his
recruitment to the NIH to start his own lab. “Despite never having been a member of the Yount lab, and never having worked at the Ohio State University, Jacob has contributed as much to my career trajectory as the PIs serving as my direct supervisors.”

Adrienne M. Antonson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, Edward R. Madigan Laboratory, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Jacob Yount’s mentorship and support was transformative during her postdoctoral training period at The Ohio State University, although not under the Yount’s direct supervision.

Nahara P. Vargas-Maldonado, BSc., Doctoral Candidate, Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis Program, Emory University, Atlanta, USA. Nahara is a former post-baccalaureate researcher from Dr. Yount’s laboratory who joined his group during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. “As a first-generation in STEM, I rely on the guidance of successful people like Dr. Yount. He helped me find doctoral programs aligned with my professional and personal goals. Furthermore, he became an advocate as this process is challenging for students who completed their undergraduate formation in another language and wish to complete their graduate studies in the contiguous US. As a doctoral candidate, Dr. Yount’s actions continue to resonate in my life, and I aspire to mentor others with the same dedication as he did with me. Dr. Jacob Yount inspired and challenged me to be a better student and researcher and, most of all, to believe in my potential.”

Nicholas Chesarino, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Associate at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was the Yount Laboratory’s first graduate student and received outstanding support that allowed him to publish 7 papers (5 as first author), receive 2 fellowship awards, and graduate in 4 years. “Of note, Jacob helped me to secure the OSU Presidential Fellowship, OSU’s highest honor for graduate students. Further, while at an AAI meeting in Seattle, Jacob encouraged me to contact possible postdoctoral mentors. It was here that I met with my current postdoctoral advisor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where my training in the Yount lab has been pivotal to my successes.”

Jacob’s second graduate student, Dr. Temet McMichael, was similarly productive in the Yount laboratory with 13 publications and highly competitive fellowships (ASM and HHMI Gilliam) under the guidance of Dr. Yount. Temet was determined to join the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service after graduation despite this program primarily hiring physicians. Temet was accepted into the program and served as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer from 2019-2021. Temet was deployed to Ghana to assist in Polio eradication, but given his virology training in the Yount lab, was soon called back to the US to investigate the first outbreaks of COVID-19. In fact, Temet is the first author on the first study to implicate airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a nursing home setting (McMichael, NEJM, 2020). Temet was also deployed to tribal nations during the pandemic and served as the senior tribal advisor to CDC’s tribal COVID-19 task force, the tribal liaison at County of San Diego, and the lead for the lab leadership team. Temet now serves as a Medical Science Liaison at Hologic, a women’s health and diagnostic company.

His third graduate student, Dr. Adam Kenney, published more than 20 papers while in the Yount laboratory and received two graduate research fellowships and postdoctoral fellowship funding. While a graduate student, Dr. Kenney established the first small animal model for the study of cardiac complications of influenza virus infections. Dr. Kenney chose to remain in the Yount laboratory for his postdoctoral studies because of the outstanding mentorship he was receiving. Indeed, Dr. Kenney and Dr. Yount established an additional mentoring team comprised of cardiologists to expand this aspect of his training. After less than two years, Dr. Kenney has already published two first author articles as a fellow (Science Advances and EMBO Reports) and, with Dr. Yount’s advocacy, has received departmental approval to advance to a Research Assistant Professor position that will fast-track his career independence. 

Dr. Jacob Yount earned his PhD in 2007 from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine studying virus-induced activation of inflammatory cytokine and interferon production by dendritic cells with Drs. Carolina Lopez and Thomas Moran. He went on to receive postdoctoral training in the field of Chemical Biology with Dr. Howard Hang at the Rockefeller University where he identified lipid-dependent antiviral activity of specific interferon-induced effector proteins. He started an independent position at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in 2012 and is now a Professor of Microbial Infection and Immunity and Co-Director of the OSU Infectious Diseases Institute’s Viruses and Emerging Pathogens Program. His research focuses on understanding and combating respiratory and cardiac viral infections, with a focus on distinguishing and manipulating beneficial and detrimental inflammatory mechanisms of the innate immune response. Dr. Yount is currently a principal investigator on 4 NIH grants and an American Lung Association COVID-19 grant. He is active as a reviewer for NIH study sections, is Chair of the American Heart Association’s Virology and Disease fellowship review panel, and is an editor for mBioJournal of Immunology, and PLOS Pathogens