On May 3, Casey Weaver, M.D., the Wyatt and Susan Haskell Endowed Chair for Medical Excellence in the Department of Pathology, was elected to the prestigious and esteemed National Academy of Sciences (NAS)—one of the highest honors offered to scientists in the U.S.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, non-profit society of accomplished scholars who provide independent, objective counsel to the nation on matters related to science and technology.
Members are nominated by their peers to recognize their distinguished, outstanding, and ongoing achievements in original research and contributions to scientific and/or technological progression.
“Science is a team sport, and this honor is a tribute to the incredible people I've had the good fortune to work with at UAB—especially the trainees,” said Weaver. “I’m pleased that the work this acknowledges was done at UAB over the last thirty years. It’s truly homegrown.”
For over three decades, Weaver’s research has focused on immunology, specifically T cells, which develop from stem cells in the bone marrow and help protect the body from infection and cancer. Weaver has studied the mechanisms by which CD4+ T cells control adaptive and innate immunity, including but not limited to mechanisms controlling the development of different T-cell subsets and the role of T cells in maintaining immune homeostasis in the face of a large, diverse intestinal microbiota. His laboratory led in the discovery of the TH17 pathway that resulted in extension of the original TH1–TH2 hypothesis and stimulated a new appreciation of the role of this pathway in host protection against infection and its contribution to immune pathogenesis.
One of his most recent studies was published in the journal Immunity titled “A nonredundant role for T cell-derived interleukin 22 in antibacterial defense of colonic crypts.” Weaver and his team examined the contributions of the innate lymphoid cell (ILC) and T cell-derived IL-22 during Citrobacter rodentium (C.r) infection using mice that both report IL-22 expression and allow lineage-specific deletion. These findings address a central, unresolved issue regarding the coordination of innate and adaptive immunity and the specialization of innate lymphoid cells and T cells in defense of the intestinal tract.
This work will ultimately advance medical understanding of disease, improving patient outcomes and therapies.
Weaver was among 120 new members and 30 international members inducted to NAS, bringing the total number of active members to 2,512 and the total number of international members to 517.
“Dr. Casey Weaver’s election to the National Academy of Sciences is a huge accomplishment for our Academic Medical Center and for UAB as an institution,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, dean of the Heersink School of Medicine, CEO of the UAB Health System and CEO of the UAB/Ascension St. Vincent’s Alliance. “This is one of the highest honors a scientist can receive, and we are very proud of his continued work and success.”
“We are extremely proud of Casey Weaver in his receipt of this distinguished honor,” said George Netto, M.D., Robert and Ruth Anderson Endowed Chair in the Department of Pathology. “Dr. Weaver has been an integral contributor to the research landscape at UAB and internationally, and this recognition by the National Academy of Sciences comes as little surprise to those who know him and his work. He is a scientist of distinction, whose research has broadened our base of knowledge in immunology. This award is a fitting acknowledgment of his outstanding work over the last 30 years at UAB. We congratulate Casey on this incredible milestone.”
Weaver, who graduated medical school from the University of Florida, trained in pathology during his residency at Barnes and Jewish Hospitals at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also did post-doctoral training in immunology. Weaver joined the Department of Pathology at UAB in 1992. He has published over 180 peer-reviewed articles in outstanding high impact and prestigious journals including Science, Nature, Cell, Nature Immunology, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Science Immunology, Nature Medicine, and eLife, and he is an author of Janeway’s Immunobiology, one of the leading immunology textbooks. He has won the HudsonAlpha Prize for Outstanding Innovation (2009) and was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology as a fellow (2014).
In addition to his endowed chair in Pathology, Weaver holds appointments in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Department of Medicine, the Department of Neurology, and the Department of Microbiology.
NAS is one of the oldest academies in the U.S. and was founded in 1863 at the height of the Civil War when a small group of 49 scientists drafted legislation to incorporate the academy into the federal government. It was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. Since, NAS has expanded and grown, establishing the National Research Council during World War I, the National Academy of Engineering in 1964, and the Institute of Medicine in 1970—which later became the National Academy of Medicine.
Weaver and the other new members will be formally inducted to NAS during the academy’s 159th annual meeting next year.