Terrence Town, Ph.D.

Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

Dr. Town received his Ph.D. in neuroscience with distinction from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, in 2002. He then completed post-doctoral work and a junior faculty position at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Immunobiology, Yale University in 2008. That same year, he was appointed associate professor at both Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was the inaugural holder of the Ben Winters Endowed Chair in Regenerative Medicine from 2008–2013. 

Dr. Town was promoted to full professor in 2013 and relocated to the University of Southern California that same year. He has received several prestigious career awards, including the Julie Martin Mid-career Award in Aging Research from the American Federation for Aging Research/Ellison Medical Foundation and the Zenith Fellows Award from the Alzheimer’s Association. 

The unifying theme of Dr. Town’s work is that the Alzheimer brain overcompensates to pro-inflammatory signals by trying to shut down the innate immune system, and that “rebalancing” innate immunity is the way forward to an Alzheimer therapy. Specifically, his approach is to inhibit suppressors of innate immunity to promote amyloid clearance and restore cognitive function.  

Funded Research

Project Description Researchers Funding
Targeting Beneficial Innate Immunity in Alzheimer’s by IRAK-M Deletion

A defining feature of Alzheimer’s disease is brain accumulation of toxic plaques that induce memory loss. In the healthy brain, innate immune cells are protective; however, in Alzheimer patients’ brains, these cells fail to prevent plaque formation. Innate immune cells express a molecule named IRAK-M that ensures immune responses to invading bacteria and viruses are kept under tight control. Yet, this type of immune response is dysfunctional in the Alzheimer patient brain. Our hypothesis is that ‘re-balancing’ the brain’s immune response by blocking IRAK-M will enable plaque clearance.

2015 to 2016