Altfeld Promoted to Professor of Medicine at HMS

Altfeld Promoted to Professor of Medicine at HMS

May 28

Dr. Marcus Altfeld, Ragon Institute Investigator, has been promoted to Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS).  This appointment comes after many years of distinguished research both in Boston and South Africa.


Dr. Altfeld received his MD and PhD from the University of Cologne, Germany.  In 1999, he started his post-doctoral research work at the Partners AIDS Research Center (PARC), at that time a division of the Infectious Disease Department of Massachusetts General Hospital.  There he worked under the mentorship of Dr. Bruce Walker, studying T cell responses in acute HIV-1 infection, and joined the faculty in 2001,


”Marcus has had an exceptional career, and is more than deserving of this honor,” said Ragon Institute Director and Altfeld mentor Dr. Bruce Walker.  “It is particularly impressive to see someone rise through the ranks from postdoctoral fellow to Professor of Medicine, and in such a short time!”


When PARC became the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard in 2009, Dr. Altfeld became a member of the Ragon Institute Steering Committee, and also was invited to serve on as head of the Innate Immunity Program at the Institute. Dr. Altfeld is also Director of the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) Pathogenesis Program, and serves as an Honorary Professor of Microbiology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).  Additionally, he is a Distinguished Clinical Scientist of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and a member of the Harvard Medical School Immunology Graduate Program.


The Altfeld Lab’s research is directed towards the innate immune response to viral infections, with focus on HIV-1 and Influenza infection. The aim of this research is to understand what causes protective immunity in viral infections, and in particular, how the initial activation of the innate immune system by pathogens shapes the quality of the adaptive immune response. The long term goal of this research is to harness this knowledge of the innate immunity system to developed protective vaccines against viral diseases.


Part of Prof. Altfeld’s research group is based in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa at the HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP) on the campus of the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN).  Having a research facility in the heart of the HIV-1 epidemic facilitates the research efforts to identify the correlates for protective immunity in HIV-1 infection, and also helps to mentor and empower young African scientists to be part of the solution to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  Dr. Altfeld travels to South Africa 5-6 times a year in order to collaborate with the African scientists based there.


“Marcus has been visionary in his science, initiating an entirely new area of research on innate immunity within the Ragon Institute, and is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in this field,” noted Dr. Walker.  “And while advancing his own career, he has been an effective mentor to numerous others who have gone on to productive careers; he has always been invested in their individual success.”


Dr. Altfeld’s promotion is the culmination of years of research and leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS and greatly deserved.