AAI President's Message


JoAnne L. Flynn, Ph.D. (AAI President, 2018-2019)

Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

AAI President, 2018-2019

It is my distinct honor to be president of The American Association of Immunologists. I look forward to representing all of our members and the interests of the immunology community over the next year. I am extremely proud of this organization, which represents immunologists not only from the United States, but also from countries around the world. Our organization is robust and outspoken, and relies on the membership to remain a strong voice for immunology and science. The AAI Council, together with AAI Executive Director Dr. Michele Hogan and her wonderful staff, are here to serve the members of AAI and to advocate for immunology research.

Immunology underpins many areas of medical science. When the members of Council, the Committee on Public Affairs, and our AAI Public Policy Fellows meet with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and their staffs each year, we explain the fundamentals of immunology and why it is critical to improving health and preventing disease. We advocate for increased NIH funding and encourage legislators to support biomedical research. This important effort is expertly guided by Lauren Gross, J.D., AAI Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs, who – with her staff – advises us on the process of advocating for science and interacting with government officials. While we welcome the recent generous increases to the NIH budget ($7B over the past three years), many challenges remain, including how to best support the next generation of researchers.

One reason I am so proud to be a member of AAI, and now president, is the enormous support this organization gives to the immunology community. AAI has provided millions of dollars to our members in the form of training fellowships for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, career recognition awards, travel awards to meetings, and our Travel for Techniques Program. Two new fellowship programs have been launched this year: the Career Reentry Fellowship Program helps scientists restart their postdoctoral training after a hiatus due to medical leave, military obligation, or family circumstances; and the Intersect Fellowship is designed to allow immunologists and computational biologists to train in each other’s discipline.

AAI also offers outstanding educational opportunities. Each year, AAI sponsors courses covering introductory and advanced immunology, featuring world-class faculty. Our annual meeting, the largest all-immunology annual meeting in the world, is a fantastic venue for hearing the latest immunology research, networking, and taking advantage of career development activities.

These programs and activities are only possible because of your membership, our many member volunteers, and the outstanding staff at AAI. I encourage each of you to check out these opportunities on our web site and become involved.

In addition to the many programs described above, AAI supports the field through the publication of two scholarly journals: The Journal of Immunology (The JI) and ImmunoHorizons (IH). The JI has published outstanding immunology articles for well over a century and continues to be a leading journal in the field. IH, started in 2017, is a fully peer-reviewed, open access, online-only journal committed to advancing the knowledge of immunology. The new editor-in-chief of The JI, Dr. Eugene Oltz, and his excellent group of deputy, section, and associate editors, along with outstanding reviewers, work tirelessly for The JI. Likewise, IH co-editors-in-chief Drs. Leslie Berg and Michael Krangel, together with their dedicated team of senior and associate editors, work to enhance the visibility and stature of this new journal among scientists in our field. Authors who publish papers in the AAI journals get constructive reviews, an amazingly fast turnaround time, and, in The JI, a long citation half-life. I urge you to publish your research in these excellent publications. In addition to the many benefits of publishing in our journals, please know that journal revenue supports AAI programs and activities that benefit you as a member.

As I begin my service as your president, I am dedicated to learning more about the needs of the immunology community. I have a strong interest in young scientists, including the special challenges faced by female scientists. We have an outstanding group of immunologists who serve on Council and on AAI committees as representatives of the membership. We look forward to hearing from you—ideas, concerns, or questions. AAI is an organization that immunologists can be proud to be a part of. I hope you and your trainees will continue to support AAI so that AAI can “be there” for you now - and in the future.

(Posted July 2018)

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