Dr. Michael Robek Named Chair of IMD

Professor Michael Robek, PhD has been appointed chair of Albany Medical College’s Department of Immunology & Microbial Disease.

Dr. Robek joined the department in 2015 and had been serving as interim chair since the retirement last year of Dennis Metzger, PhD.

“IMD has a long history of making important scientific contributions in bacteriology, virology, immunology, and vaccine development,” said Dr. Robek, who also noted that he’s looking forward to leading the department’s efforts in understanding the basic mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, and translating those findings into new therapies that benefit patients.

Dr. Robek’s research has focused on understanding how virus-host interactions might be therapeutically manipulated to control chronic viral infections, with an emphasis on the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and identifying potential new ways to inhibit virus replication and prevent liver damage.

“Our hope is to expand the repertoire of therapies for HBV and other viruses,” said Dr. Robek.

Ongoing research within IMD also explores other microbes and diseases, including pneumonia, insect-borne infectious agents, HIV, tuberculosis, and the bacteria Yersinia pestis, which causes plague.

A long-standing independent investigator who has been awarded dozens of grants throughout his career, Dr. Robek’s current research is funded in part by a multi-million-dollar grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Widely published in journals like the Journal of Clinical Virology, Journal of Virology, and Vaccines, he is currently an editorial board member of the Journal of Virology and an associate editor of both PLoS Pathogens and Virology Journal. He holds a patent for virus-like vesicle-based vaccines to prevent or treat chronic HBV infection.

Dr. Robek joined the faculty at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. after completing postdoctoral training at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Ca., where he studied the immune response to HBV. He earned his doctoral degree in microbiology from Washington University in St. Louis.

More than 60 scientists comprise Albany Medical College’s four research departments, focused on infectious disease, cancer, molecular science, and neuroscience. Together with medical students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows studying biomedical science, they search for better treatments for a wide range of diseases and work to ensure that discoveries made in the laboratories are translated into medical innovations at patients’ bedsides.