Jacob Estes to Lead Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute

Dr. Jacob Estes

Jacob Estes, Ph.D., will become the director of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health & Science University beginning Dec. 1, 2022.

Dr. Estes joined VGTI in 2017. He is currently a professor at the VGTI as well as chief of the Division of Pathobiology and Immunology at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology in 1999, and then continued at BYU in the laboratory of Dr. Gregory Burton for his Ph.D. in immunology and HIV pathogenesis. From 2003 to 2007, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Ashley Haase in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Minnesota, focusing on the in vivo immunopathology of lentiviral infections. After his postdoc, he joined the AIDS and Cancer Virus Program at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, where he was a principal investigator of the Retroviral Immunopathology Section and senior principal scientist and head of the Tissue Analysis Core.

Dr. Estes has been highly successful since coming to OHSU, establishing a large, well-funded research program. At the VGTI, his research uses an array of histopathological and high-dimensional spatial biology approaches to characterize mechanisms of infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis, as well as studying immunopathogenesis and tissue pathology, pathogen persistence, and vaccine efficacy.  The central goal of his research is to understand how dynamic host cellular immune-pathogen interactions lead to the establishment and persistence of pathogens–and how those pathogens affect the immune system more broadly. The Estes lab also uses non-human primate models of global infectious diseases, including HIV infection and disease, to decode the drivers of local and systemic inflammation and to test therapeutics that help to restore immune function and reduce viral reservoirs. Dr. Estes has established collaborations with scholarly, government, and industry partners around the world, on a wide range of projects from bacterial imbalances in the gut to SARS-CoV-2.

Dr. Estes will replace founding director, Dr. Jay Nelson, who is retiring from his leadership position–and whose leadership shaped the institute into the internationally renowned research force that it is today. The originating goal of the VGTI was to assemble a multidisciplinary team of scientists to respond to increasingly serious viral disease threats, including AIDS, chronic viral infection-associated diseases, newly emerging viral diseases, and infectious diseases of the elderly. The institute’s researchers, who work in close partnership with ONPRC, span the continuum from basic to clinical science. Under Dr. Nelson’s leadership, they have become a highly successful group whose papers are cited at more than twice the global average and whose contributions to immunology are having real-world effects for patients.