Dr. Ilhem Messaoudi Named Chair of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics

It is with excitement that after an extensive, nationwide search, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine will officially welcome Ilhem Messaoudi, PhD, to campus as the new chair of the department of microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics. This appointment will be effective Nov. 1.

As chair Dr. Messaoudi will help lead the recruitment of scientists in the areas of microbial pathogenesis, immunity, inflammation, and tumor immunology; mentor faculty to attain promotion and tenure; promote educational excellence for undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in the department; collaborate with other chairs and center directors to help improve UK’s research landscape; and pursue extramural funding for research projects.

Dr. Messaoudi joins the UK College of Medicine with an expansive research portfolio, most recently at the University of California Irvine where she is as professor of molecular biology and biochemistry. Prior to joining UC-Irvine, she was an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of California Riverside and an assistant professor in the division of pathobiology and immunology at the Oregon National Primate Research Center.

“With our college’s increased focus on becoming a hub of transformative research for Kentuckians and beyond, we are excited to add Dr. Messaoudi to our team,” Dean Robert S. DiPaola, MD, said. “As an experienced educator and scientist, her leadership will help us enhance our research at UK and prepare the next generation of scientists to make groundbreaking discoveries.”

Through the course of her research career, Dr. Messaoudi has been part of more than 130 manuscripts and has been invited to present at more than 90 seminars. Some of her notable awards include the American Society of Microbiology Distinguished Lecturer (2017-2019), the Women and Diversity Paper of the Year in 2015, and the Dolph O. Adams Award from the Society of Leukocyte Biology (2014), recognizing excellence in researching cellular and molecular mechanisms of host defense and inflammation.

Dr. Messaoudi is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and a member of the American Association of Immunologists, Society of Leukocyte Biology, and the American Society of Microbiology.

She earned her PhD in immunology at the Cornell University Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences in conjunction with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University.

As we welcome Dr. Messaoudi to the UK College of Medicine, we also want to thank Ken Fields, PhD, for serving as interim chair for the department, especially during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.