An Indian-American is among thirteen University of Chicago faculty members who have received named professorships or have been appointed distinguished service professors.
The University announced the names July 1, 2020, of Profs. Vinay Kumar, Clifford Ando, John Birge, Frances Ferguson, , Ka Yee C. Lee and Linda Waite , all of whom received distinguished service professorships; and Profs. Neil Brenner, Junhong Chen, Scott Eggener, Timothy Harrison, Eric Pamer, Mercedes Pascual and Brook Ziporyn who received named professorships.
Vinay Kumar has been named the Lowell T. Coggeshall Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Pathology.
Kumar is a pioneer in the field of the cellular and molecular biology of natural killer cells and a global leader in medical education, the University noted.
He was one of the first to propose the existence of a novel subset of lymphoid cells with antileukemic activity, subsequently identified as natural killer cells.
Prof. Kumar’s research has led to greater understanding of the origin and differentiation of these cells and their role in the rejection of transplanted bone marrow.
His team of researchers is also credited with discovering that mutations in the human perforin gene give rise to severe and fatal disorders of immune dysregulation.
“This paradigm-shifting work has been recognized as a “pillar of immunology” by the Journal of Immunology,” noted the University.
Kumar is the senior editor and co-author of five pathology textbooks, including Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, which has been translated into more than 13 languages and is the most widely used pathology text in the world.
Among the many honors he has received for his research, is election as a fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Sciences in 2004, and the 2019 Gold Headed Cane Award, which is the highest honor granted by the American Society for Investigative Pathology.
Kumar was born in India in 1944, and graduated with a science degree from Fergusson College, Poona University. He went on to get his medical degree from Punjab University Medical College in Amritsar at the young age of 22.
He joined the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, AIIMS, working on a doctoral degree in experimental pathology and simultaneously training as a resident in anatomic pathology and hematology, according to his detailed biography available on the site of the American Society for Investigative Pathology. He received several awards along the way.
Dr. Kumar left for the U.S. to continue cancer research, joining the Mallory Institute of Pathology at Boston University School of Medicine where he met and collaborated with other famous pathologists.
In 1982, Dr. Kumar accepted a position as Associate Professor of Pathology at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He was made a full Professor of Pathology within a year.
He is credited with creating some of the most exciting and challenging pathology programs wherever he went. In early 2000, he became Chairman of the Department of Pathology at University of Chicago where he remains to this day.
The American Society for Investigative Pathology described Dr. Kumar in the following words when awarding him the Gold-Headed Cane Award – “In summary, Dr. Vinay Kumar has been selected for the Gold-Headed Cane Award not only because of his pioneering work on NK cells and contributions to academic pathology and medical education but also because of his enthusiasm, curiosity, diligence, and commitment to excellence that have inspired countless students, faculty and administrators, and others to follow in his path.”