JANUARY 29, 2024, NEW YORK – It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of Lydia Lynch as a full member of the Princeton Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. In addition to her post at Ludwig Princeton, Lynch has been appointed a full professor at Princeton University, in the Department of Molecular Biology. We extend our congratulations to Lynch on that appointment as well.
An immunologist born, raised and initially trained in Ireland, Lynch joins Ludwig Princeton from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where she was an associate professor of medicine. Her laboratory, which explores the interplay of systemic and cellular metabolic processes with the immune system, has made landmark contributions to models of how obesity and diet influence immune regulation and anti-tumor immunity—and how immune cells in turn shape systemic metabolism.
“With obesity and overweight now a public health crisis—and mounting evidence that these conditions increase the risk of developing more than a dozen types of cancer—Lydia’s pioneering work in the field of immunometabolism has become invaluable to the larger program of cancer research,” said Chi Van Dang, scientific director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. “We are very happy to support Lydia’s inspired research and welcome her into our community. She will find across the Branches and Centers of Ludwig Cancer Research an enviable roster of highly collaborative, leading scientists with the expertise to contribute meaningfully to her research—and a leadership eager, to say the least, to promote such collaboration.”
Ludwig Princeton Director Joshua Rabinowitz too welcomed Lynch to the Branch.
“We are all very excited to have Lydia join us and feel she will bring a valuable new dimension to our work on cancer metabolism, especially in terms of its interaction with the immune system, which is a recurrent theme in our various lines of inquiry,” said Rabinowitz. “We look forward to working with her team and are confident our joint efforts will contribute not only to a better understanding of cancer but also, in time, to meaningful improvements in its treatment.”
Lynch, who opened her own lab at Harvard just under a decade ago, after completing her postdoctoral training there, has racked up an uncommonly rich compendium of scientific discovery since earning her PhD in 2008 from University College Dublin. She has detailed how changes in systemic metabolism brought about by altered diet affect the metabolism of immune cells, being among the first to elucidate the mechanisms underlying such effects in humans and mice. Notably, her research has explained why obesity induces inflammation yet, paradoxically, compromises the immune system’s surveillance of cancer as well as its ensuing anti-tumor response. More recently, she and her colleagues have shown how different types of dietary fats contributing to obesity have different effects on anti-tumor immunity, with animal-derived fats (think bacon) being far more detrimental to such responses than lipids derived from plants (like palm oil).
On the flip side, Lynch discovered a type of immune cell found in fat, the “adipose iNKT cell”, that has profound effects on metabolism. Over the past dozen years, her lab has detailed the mechanisms by which this unusual class of immune cells regulates the function of fat cells and body weight. Lynch is also applying her many discoveries in the field of immunometabolism to devise new therapies and has recently received major grants to develop a novel innate T cell-based immunotherapy for cancer.
“I am delighted to join Ludwig Princeton, led by Josh Rabinowitz, a pioneer in the field of metabolomics, and staffed with world class talent in computational biology and artificial intelligence, a discipline with incalculable potential for my field of research,” said Lynch. “I am also very excited by the prospect of establishing collaborations with the many renowned scientists at Ludwig’s other Branches and Centers—and am happy to say this is something that has already started.”