Miriam Merad, M.D., Ph.D., is an internationally acclaimed physician-scientist and leader in the fields of dendritic cell and macrophage biology. Through her seminal discoveries about the development and functional identity of tissue resident dendritic cells and macrophages during homeostasis, Merad has helped to identify dysregulated pathways that can be harnessed to treat cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Merad was born in France but raised in Algeria, as her parents returned thereafter completing their medical studies to join other native Algerians in working to rebuild the country’s civil and medical industry after Algeria gained independence from France. During her childhood, Merad aspired to help patients and understand human disease, just like her parents. This led her to pursue a medical degree through the University of Algiers, which she completed in Paris, France after being selected to participate in a highly-selective internship program. She then completed both a hematology and oncology residency and a master’s degree in Biotechnology through the University of Paris VII.
Up until this time, Merad had been focused on patient care while doing research on the side. However, she became intrigued by the work of Laurence Zitvogel, a cancer immunologist who was using dendritic cells in cancer vaccines. Merad was so interested in this emerging field of cancer immunology that she came to the United States to pursue her PhD in Edgar Engleman’s laboratory at Stanford University. During her time as a graduate student, Merad discovered that epidermal Langerhans cells – a type of macrophage – were maintained in tissues independently of adult hematopoiesis, and used bone marrow transplants in mouse models to show that Langerhans cells contributed to skin graft-versus-host disease. Merad was invited to present her work at the Rockefeller Institute, where her potential as a young investigator was realized and launched the start of her own laboratory as an Assistant Professor at theIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York – while pregnant with her first child.
Through a series of landmark studies, Merad and her research group identified the embryonic origin of tissue-resident macrophages, and discovered that microglia in the brain originate from primitive embryonic precursors during development. Merad also established the contribution of tissue-resident macrophages to cancer progression and inflammatory diseases. In addition, she identified a new subset of dendritic cells, CD103+ dendritic cells, which is now considered a key target of anti-viral and anti-tumor immunity.
Merad is now the Mount Sinai Endowed Professor in Cancer Immunology, leads the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine (PrIISM), and helped develop the Human Immune Monitoring Center at MountSinai, an advanced immunology research center that uses single-cell technology to understand the contribution of immune cells to diseases or treatment responses. In addition to authoring more than 200 papers and reviews, receiving generous NIH funding, and belonging to several NIH consortia, Merad is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and recipient of the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology.She is the President-elect of the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS), and became the first Algerian and Arab woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of her contributions to the field of immunology.
Entry courtesy of Nicole Sivetz