Avery August

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Avery August (born January 31, 1966) is a Belizean-born American scientist and doctor who is currently a Professor of Immunology at Cornell University.


Avery August was born in Belize City, Belize. August attended government primary schools, and subsequently attended St. Michael's College for Boys (as High Schools in Belize are called),[1] where he earned a High School Diploma. Following one year at the Belize Technical College, he emigrated with his family to Los Angeles, California. There he attended California State University, Los Angeles,[2] where he earned a B.S. degree in Medical Technology.[3] While at California State University, he got involved in undergraduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Phoebe Dea, then Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry at California State University[4] (see Scientific Career below for details). This first exposure to research pushed him to attend graduate school at Cornell University's Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York City. There he worked at the Sloan Kettering Institute (an Institute within the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) with Immunologist Dr. Bo Dupont, and where he earned PhD degree in Immunology. He then gained post-doctoral experience at The Rockefeller University, working with renowned virologist and National Academy of Science member, Dr. Hidesaburo Hanafusa.

Scientific career[edit]

August first worked in the catalytic synthesis of fatty acids and other lipids as an undergraduate student in Prof. Dea's laboratory at California State University, Los Angeles. This work resulted in the publication on methods to easily catalyze the insertion of deuterium into unsaturated fatty acids, which could then be used as probes of membrane structure.[5]

Upon moving to Cornell University, Dr. August initiated work on his PhD thesis, to understand the molecular basis of activation of T cells. T cells are major players in regulating the development of an immune response.[6] The importance of these cells is illustrated by the fact that the virus HIV infects helper T cells, and thus disables effective immunity against the virus, resulting in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.[7]

At Cornell, Dr. August worked with Dr. Bo Dupont, working on unraveling the molecular basis for T cell costimulation by the cell surface protein CD28. This work resulted in 9 publications (see references at PubMed). This work also led to the production of his PhD thesis entitled "On the molecular basis of the two signal hypothesis of T cell activation: Signaling by CD3 and CD28".[8]

Following graduation, Dr. August joined the Laboratory of Molecular Oncology at Rockefeller University, headed by Dr. Hidesaburo Hanafusa. At The Rockefeller, Dr. August worked on a number of areas, including analysis of the BRCA1 oncogene that when mutated, results in much increased risk for breast cancer. This work was the first to show that this protein could regulate the transcription of genes and could potentially regulate the development of Breast cancer in this fashion.[9][10][11] He also continued working on analysis of the regulation of Tec family kinases, work which he had started as a PhD student[12] and was the first to show that this family of kinases are regulated by upstream signals from Src and PI3-kinase.[13] This work had direct implications for manipulating T cell activation and thus the immune response.


  1. ^ http://www.belizenorth.com/schools.htm
  2. ^ http://www.calstatela.edu/
  3. ^ http://www.the-scientist.com/2005/11/07/s30/1/
  4. ^ http://www.calstatela.edu/univ/ppa/newsrel/opaweb.htm
  5. ^ A. August, C.J. Dao, D. Jensen, Q. Zhang, and P.Dea. “A facile catalytic deuteration of unsaturated fatty acids and phospholipids.” (1993) Microchem. J. 47:224.
  6. ^ Kuby Immunology, 6th Edition, TJ Kindt, BA Orborne and RA Goldsby, WH Freeman Publishers.
  7. ^ H. Wigzell. "Immunopathogenesis of HIV infection." (1988) J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1:559-65.
  8. ^ A. August (GS). “On the molecular basis of the two signal hypothesis of T cell activation: Signaling by CD3 and CD28”. Ph.D. Thesis. Cornell University.
  9. ^ A.N.A. Monteiro, A. August, and H. Hanafusa. “Evidence for a transcriptional activation function for BRCA1 C-terminal region.” (1996) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 93: 13595.
  10. ^ A.N.A. Monteiro, A. August, and H. Hanafusa. “Common BRCA1 Variants and Transcriptional Activation.” (1997) Am. J. Human. Genet. 61:761.
  11. ^ T. Ouchi, A.N.A. Monteiro, A. August, S.A. Aaronson, and H. Hanafusa. “BRCA1 regulates p53-dependent gene expression.” (1998) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci 95: 2302.
  12. ^ A. August, S. Gibson, Y. Kawakami, T. Kawakami, G.B. Mills and B. Dupont. “CD28 is associated with and induces the immediate tyrosine phosphorylation and activation of the Tec family kinase ITK/EMT in the human Jurkat leukemic cell line.” (1994) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 91:9347.
  13. ^ A. August, A. Sadra, B. Dupont and H. Hanafusa. “Src induced activation of Inducible T cell Kinase (ITK) requires PI3 kinase activity and the Pleckstrin Homology domain of inducible T cell kinase.” (1997) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 94: 11227.