Françoise Gilot-Salk Chair and professor in the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory
Greg Lemke holds the Françoise Gilot-Salk Chair and is a professor in the Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (La Jolla, US).
Lemke received a BS in life sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; US) and a PhD in biology from the California Institute of Technology (US). He was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University (US). He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Kroc Foundation Graduate Fellowship (1979-1981), the Muscular Dystrophy Association Postdoctoral Fellowship (1983-1985), the Pew Scholar Award (1986-1990), the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award from the March of Dimes (1987-1989), the Rita Allen Scholars Award (1990-1995) and the Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award (1994-2001), and is the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow (2007-present).
Lemke and his team use molecular genetics to study signaling networks that control immune system function and nervous system development. Lemke discovered a family of three receptor tyrosine kinases, called TAM receptors, which play a crucial role in telling immune cells how to handle infection from bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, as well as normal cellular debris. His lab showed how problems with the TAM receptors (called Tyro3, Axl and Mer) or their pathways are associated with increased levels of drug-resistant cancer as well as inflammation and autoimmune disease such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. They are also interested in the role that dysregulation of the TAM signaling network plays in the course of infection by influenza, West Nile and dengue viruses. Aside from immune function, TAM receptors are involved in the healthy development of the nervous system. Lemke is also studying another major family of receptor tyrosine kinases, called Eph receptors. These are some of the earliest to show up in the developing brain of a fetus and help to guide neuronal connections. Eph receptors help neurons — like those that link the eyes to the brain — know where to go as they grow.