Michaela  Gack,  PhD

Michaela Gack, PhD

Scientific Director

Florida Research & Innovation Center, 9801 SW Discovery Way, Port St. Lucie, FL 34987


Dr. Gack did her PhD studies in virology at Harvard Medical School as part of the collaborative graduate training program between Harvard University and the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. During her PhD studies, she worked on the molecular mechanisms of activation of the human immune response to virus infection. Her postdoctoral studies on immune evasion of influenza virus were conducted at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In 2011, she was appointed Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School’s Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, where she was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. In 2015, she joined the Biological Sciences Division faculty at the University of Chicago, where she was promoted to Professor in 2018. In 2020, Dr. Gack moved her lab to Cleveland Clinic Florida. She is currently The Arthur and Marylin Levitt Endowed Chair and Scientific Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Florida Research and Innovation Center, Port St Lucie, Florida.

Dr. Gack’s research focuses on understanding how the intricate interplay between viruses and the host’s immune system impacts the outcome of viral infection and disease. Understanding host-virus interactions at a molecular level is an essential step in developing safe and effective antivirals and vaccines. A long-term goal of her research is to identify the strategies employed by viral pathogens –respiratory viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and influenza, mosquito-transmitted flaviviruses, and certain tumor viruses – to escape cell-intrinsic immune responses. On the other hand, she is identifying and functionally characterizing novel host factors that play important roles in the antiviral immune defense. Her laboratory uses an integrative approach that combines proteomics and RNAi screens with molecular, biochemical, and cell-biological approaches as well as reverse genetics systems for the generation of recombinant mutant viruses.

For her academic achievements in the fields of virology and innate immunity, Dr. Gack received several awards including the GE &SciencePrize for Young Life Scientists, the Robert Koch Postdoctoral Prize 2009, the Junior Investigator Award 2013 from the European Society for Virology, and the Ann Palmenberg Junior Investigator Award 2013 from the American Society for Virology. In 2014, she received the Merck Irving S. Sigal Memorial Award of the American Society for Microbiology, and she has also been selected twice on Germany’s list of “Top 40 under 40” scientists. In 2017, she was awarded the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. Dr. Gack has continuously served on National Institutes of Health study sections and is currently an Associate Editor for theJournal of Virology.

See publications for Michaela Gack, PhD on PubMed.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications:

  1. Acharya, D., Liu, G. and Gack, M.U. (2020). Dysregulation of type I interferon responses in COVID-19. Nature Reviews Immunology 2020 Jul;20(7):397-398.
  2. Liu, G. & Gack, M.U. (2020). Distinct and orchestrated functions of RNA sensors in innate immunity. Immunity 52, July 14, 2020
  3. Koepke, L., Gack, M.U.* and Sparrer, K.M.J*. (2020). The antiviral activities of TRIM proteins. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 2020 Aug 20;59:50-57.
  4. Zhou, Y., Hou, Y., Shen, J., Kallianpur, A., Zein, J., Culver, A.D., Farha, S., Comhair, S., Fiocchi, C., Gack, M.U., Mehra, R., Stappenbeck, T., Chan, T., Eng, C., Jung, J.U., Jehi, L., Erzurum, S., Cheng, F. (2020). A network medicine approach to prediction and population-based validation of disease manifestations and drug repurposing for COVID-19, PLoS Biology. 2020 Nov 6;18(11):e3000970.
  5. Liu, X., Ma, Y., Voss, K., Chan, Y.K., Gack, M.U., Gale Jr, M., and He, B. (2021). The herpesvirus accessory protein γ134.5 facilitates viral replication by disabling mitochondrial translocation of RIG-I. PLoS Pathogens. 2021 Mar 26;17(3):e1009446.
  6. Han, Y.-J., Zhang, J., Lee, J.-H., Mason, J.M., Karginova, O., Yoshimatsu, T.F., Hao, O., Hurley, I., Brunet, L.P., Prat, A., Prasanth, K.V., Gack, M.U., and Olopade, O.I. (2021). The BRCA1 Pseudogene Negatively Regulates Anti-Tumor Responses through Inhibition of Innate Immune Defense Mechanisms. Cancer Research, 2021 Jan 20. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-1959.
  7. Chiang, C., Liu, G., and Gack, M.U. (2021). Viral evasion of RIG-I-like receptor-mediated immunity through dysregulation of ubiquitination and ISGylation. Viruses 2021 Jan 26;13(2):182. doi: 10.3390/v13020182.
  8. van Gent, M., Reich, A., Velu, S.E., and Gack, M.U. (2021) Nonsense-mediated decay controls the reactivation of the oncogenic herpesviruses EBV and KSHV. PLoS Biology, 2021 Feb 17;19(2):e3001097.
  9. Liu, G., Lee, J.H., Parker, Z.M., Acharya, D., Chiang, J.J., van Gent, M., Riedl, W., Davis-Gardner, M.E., Wies, E., Chiang, C., and Gack, M.U. (2021). ISG15-dependent activation of the sensor MDA5 is antagonized by the SARS-CoV-2 papain-like protease to evade host innate immunity. Nature Microbiology 2021 Mar 16. doi: 10.1038/s41564-021-00884-1.
  10. Chiang, C., Dvorkin, S., Chiang, J.J., Potter, R. and Gack, M.U. (2021). The small t antigen of JC virus antagonizes RIG-I-mediated innate immunity by inhibiting TRIM25’s RNA binding ability. mBio, in press
  11. Van Phan, H., van Gent, M., Drayman, N., Basu, A., GackM.U., and Tay, S. (2020). Fixed single-cell RNA sequencing for understanding virus infection and host response. bioRxiv. 2020 Sep 17:2020.09.17.302232. Currently in revision at Nature Communications
  12. Mou H, Quinlan BD, Peng H, Liu G, Guo Y, Peng S, Zhang L, Davis-Gardner ME, Gardner MR, Crynen G, DeVaux LB, Voo ZX, Bailey CC, Alpert MD, Rader C, Gack MU, Choe H, Farzan M.(2021) Mutations derived from horseshoe bat ACE2 orthologs enhance ACE2-Fc neutralization of SARS-CoV-2. PLoS Pathog. 2021 Apr 9;17(4):e1009501. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1009501 

09/15/2022 |  

Florida Research and Innovation Center Team Discovers New Signal for Triggering Human Immune Response

Cytoskeleton disturbance is key in inducing immune response; multi-trigger immune system signaling holds implications for vaccines, therapeutics.

12/09/2021 |  

Researchers to Study if Non-Coding SARS-CoV-2 Genetic Material Can Offer Insights into New COVID-19 Therapies

Led by Dr. Fox, researchers from Cleveland and Florida will collaborate to investigate if certain regions of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material, called non-coding RNA, can be targeted to treat or prevent COVID-19 infection.

10/05/2021 |  

Dr. Michaela Gack Receives Prestigious NIH Director’s Pioneer Award

Dr. Gack has received a five-year, $5.6 million award as part of NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program to study novel approaches to target viral pathogens, which may help inform the development of new antiviral therapies.

03/16/2021 |  

New Study From Cleveland Clinic Pathogens Researchers Points to Novel Drug Target for Treating COVID-19

Dr. Gack and other FRIC researchers discovered that a coronavirus enzyme blocks the activity of a previously undefined host immune response, suggesting therapeutics that inhibit the enzyme may help treat COVID-19.

07/08/2020 |  

Cleveland Clinic Florida Opens Florida Research and Innovation Center

The new center, which will complement and expand research underway at Lerner Research Institute, will focus on research related to cancer and infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and immune system response.