Renowned Vaccine Researcher, IMD Chair Dr. Dennis Metzger to Retire

“There has been a reawakening of the need for the kind of research we do,” said Dennis W. Metzger, PhD, distinguished professor and Theobald Smith Alumni Chair of the Department of Immunology and Microbial Disease (IMD), and professor of the Department of Medicine.

After 23 years at Albany Med, he will retire on April 1 as Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

Under his leadership, IMD became an internationally recognized infectious disease research group that has received more than $50 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Its state-of-the-art facilities include one of the few Biological Safety Level-3 (BSL-3) labs in upstate New York.

“Twenty years ago, when I expressed the need for BSL-3 facilities, Albany Med made it happen,” said Dr. Metzger. “We have facilities here that no one else in the region does. We’re awarded grants because of that, and we’re able to study novel viruses like SARS-CoV-2 because of that.”

After earning his PhD from the University of Illinois, Dr. Metzger held faculty positions at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and at the Medical College of Ohio before joining Albany Medical College in 1999.

Reflecting on his time at Albany Med, Dr. Metzger said, “Everyone here has been so helpful and supportive, from the CEOs to the support staff to the engineers who come right away to fix anything that’s broken. This has been a great environment and a collegial institution and I would recommend Albany Med to anyone.”

Dr. Metzger also noted that while he’s looking forward to spending more time at his house on Schroon Lake, his work will keep him busy well into his retirement: He’ll continue as a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals. He’ll also serve as a scientific advisory board member of a Singapore-based medical research council and as a consultant on several ongoing studies at Albany Med.

Professor Michael Robek, PhD has been appointed interim chair of IMD effective April 1.

Within IMD, scientists study how pathogens cause disease, and how the immune system works to protect us from those diseases. Current research includes studies related to SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – hepatitis B, tick-borne diseases, tuberculosis, influenza and plague.

A world-renowned researcher on vaccines and immune response, Dr. Metzger’s own studies have explored new approaches for stimulating protective immune responses against bacteria and viruses – including influenza and, most recently, Covid-19 – as well as microbes that could be used for bioterrorism.