Sigma: 2019-11-05

Rescheduled from 2019-01-08 because of the government shutdown.

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Immune system – the seventh sense

Jonathan Kipnis

November 5, 2019 at 7:30 P.M. at the Virginia Air and Space Center in downtown Hampton, Virginia


Contains same information as the textImmune cells and their derived molecules have major impact on brain function, but immune cells are not found within the brain’s functional tissue, adding mystery to the enigmatic interactions between immunity and the brain. We have recently discovered a presence of meningeal lymphatic vessels that drain brain molecules and immune cells to the lymph nodes, therefore physically connecting the brain and the immune system. This previously undiscovered communication between the central nervous and immune systems suggests new approaches for developing treatments for several neurological and psychiatric disorders. Examples are shown from multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease models.


Dr. Jonathan (Jony) Kipnis’s research group focuses on the complex interactions between the immune system and the central nervous system (CNS). The goal is to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of immune system in brain function in neurodegenerative, neurodevelopmental, and mental disorders as well as in healthy aging.

Dr. Kipnis’s research team showed that the brain function is dependent, in part, on the function and integrity of the immune system. The fascination with immunity and its role in healthy and diseased brain is what brought the team to a breakthrough discovery of lymphatic vessels that drain the CNS into the peripheral lymph nodes and thus serve as a physical connection between the brain and the immune system. The implications of this work are broad and range from Autism to Alzheimer’s disease through neuroinflammatory conditions, such as Multiple Sclerosis.

Dr. Kipnis graduated from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, where he was a Sir Charles Clore scholar and a recipient of distinguished prize for scientific achievements awarded by the Israeli Parliament, The Knesset.

Jony joined UVA faculty in 2007. He is now a Harrison Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Neuroscience. Since 2015 he is also a Gutenberg Research College Fellow at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Medical Center, Germany.