Jonathan Kipnis, Ph.D.

Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor and Chair, Department of Neuroscience
Director, Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG)
University of Virginia School of Medicine

Dr. Jonathan (Jony) Kipnis’ research group focuses on the complex interactions between the immune system and the central nervous system. The goal is to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of immune cells in central nervous system (CNS) homeostasis after CNS injury and in chronic neurodegenerative conditions.

Dr. Kipnis’s research team showed that the immune cells mediate their beneficial effects on the CNS from within the meningeal spaces. Elimination of meningeal T cells or their produced IL-4 results in cognitive impairment. The fascination with meningeal immunity and its role in healthy and diseased CNS is what brought the team to study immune cell trafficking in and out of this understudied compartment. These studies have recently resulted in a breakthrough discovery of meningeal lymphatic vessels that drain the macromolecules and the immune cells from the cerebrospinal fluid/CNS into the deep cervical lymph nodes. The main focus of the Kipnis lab now is to address the role of meningeal lymphatic vessels in regulation of the immune response and brain drainage in different neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases.

Jony Kipnis graduated from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where he was a Sir Charles Clore scholar. Upon graduation, he received the Prize of Excellence from the Weizmann Institute of Science and a distinguished prize for scientific achievements awarded by the Israeli Parliament, The Knesset. He was awarded the Robert Ader New Investigator Award for 2011 by the PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society and the 2012 Jordi Folch-Pi award by the American Society for Neurochemistry. In 2015, Jony became a Gutenberg Research College Fellow at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Medical Center and recently he was elected as Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Virginia.

Funded Research

Project Description Researchers Funding
The Role of Meningeal Lymphatics in Cleansing the Brain: Implications for Alzheimer’s Disease

Blood vessels supply our organs with oxygen and nutrients. Another set of vessels, called the lymphatic vessels, perform other very important roles in the maintenance of tissues as they remove all the waste and toxic compounds the organ produces and also serve as a path for immune cells from organs back to the lymph nodes. The mammalian central nervous system (CNS) thus far has been considered one of the only organs devoid of lymphatic vessels, and it was not fully understood how toxic compounds are removed from the brain.