Gabriel Nuñez earned his M.D. degree from the University of Seville, Spain, in 1977. He received postdoctoral training in Immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas (1979–1984) and residency training in Anatomical Pathology at Washington University in St Louis (1985–1990). In 1987, he joined the laboratory of Stanley Korsmeyer at Washington University, where he studied the function of the anti-apoptotic protein BCL-2. In 1991, he joined the Department of Pathology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to full Professor in 2001. He holds the Paul de Kruif Endowed Professorship in Academic Pathology. His laboratory identified NOD1 and NOD2, the first members of the Nod-like receptor (NLR) family, a class of pattern-recognition receptors that mediate cytosolic sensing of microbial organisms. Nuñez and colleagues showed that genetic variation in a NLR family member, NOD2, is strongly associated with susceptibility to Crohn's disease. Dr. Nuñez is the author of more than 387 scientific publications that have resulted in more than 104,700 citations (h-index 151, Google Scholar). His research program is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
The Nuñez laboratory is interested in signaling pathways regulating innate immunity and host-microbial interactions. Specifically, the research focuses on mechanistic studies to understand the role of members of the Nod-like receptor (NLR) and Toll-like receptor (TLR) families in immune responses against microbial pathogens and inflammatory disease. Current studies focus on models of intestinal and skin inflammation driven by microbial pathogens, commensal bacteria and sterile organ injury. Several approaches that include analyses of genetically modified mutant mice and biochemical studies are used to understand NLR signaling pathways including those that activate the inflammasomes. In addition, the laboratory is devoting a major effort in understanding the role of the microbiota in the regulation of immune responses, eradication of pathogens and development of inflammatory disease in the gut and the skin. These studies include work to elucidate the role of the microbiota in colonization resistance against bacterial pathogens in neonates and new approaches to provide neonatal protection against enteric pathogens.