Shane Crotty is named new chief science officer at La Jolla Institute for Immunology

Shane Crotty has been named the new chief scientific officer of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.
(John Gibbins)

The immunologist’s work was instrumental in explaining coronavirus impacts on the immune system.


Immunologist Shane Crotty, whose work was pivotal in deciphering the immune system’s response to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, will be the new chief scientific officer of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.

The research institution announced that the well-known researcher will succeed fellow immunologist Mitchell Kronenberg starting Friday, Sept. 1. Kronenberg, whose lab investigates the function of disease-fighting natural killer T cells, will remain at LJI.

“[Crotty] is basically the world’s leading scientist on cellular immunology for infectious disease,” said Dr. Davey Smith, head of the division of infectious diseases at UC San Diego. “His work has been instrumental in our understanding of how T cells fight COVID and HIV.

“Such foundational knowledge is needed to make better vaccines and therapies.”

Immunologist Erica Ollmann Saphire, LJI’s president and chief executive, said in a statement that Crotty has proved he is the right person to lead the institute’s overall scientific strategy.

“Shane is an insightful and creative thinker with an exceptional breadth and depth of knowledge,” Ollmann Saphire said. “He deeply understands all the research of the institute and the opportunities that it creates for human health.”

Crotty said he believes that research on how the human immune system interacts with everything from infectious diseases to cancerous cells has reached an inflection point that makes him excited to take on the role of chief scientific officer.

The collection of experts the organization has assembled presents a rare opportunity to collaborate on big questions such as future pandemic preparedness, he said.

“For a particular virus that is a potential threat, what is our best assessment of all the parts of the immune system, and which will be the best at stopping that particular virus?” Crotty said. “Then, what is the best target on the virus, one that it can’t escape or how many targets will we need to hit?”

He said LJI already is doing such work with several viruses that have pandemic potential, but the organization’s breadth of investigation goes far beyond viruses.

“That’s just one example that could be great, but we are about far more than infectious diseases,” he said. ◆