During the 30 years Randy Noelle, PhD, has spent at Dartmouth, he has witnessed—and played an important role in—an extraordinary increase in our understanding of the human immune system. Noelle and other Geisel researchers are now working to turn all the knowledge that has been gained into better treatments for patients suffering from a wide range of immune system-related illnesses.
The immune system is incredibly powerful, but in some cases, such as the growth of a tumor, it struggles to fight off disease. In other situations, such as autoimmunity, it overreacts, causing disease. Noelle has dedicated his career to finding ways both to harness the immune system to attack cancer more effectively and to suppress the immune system in cases of autoimmune diseases.
Noelle earned his PhD in 1980 at Albany Medical College after graduating with a bachelor's degree from SUNY-Stony Brook. He spent four years at the University of Texas Health Science Center and then moved north to take a position as an assistant professor at Dartmouth's medical school.
In the years since arriving at Dartmouth, Noelle has earned a reputation as a leading expert on the immune system. In 1991, he and his lab discovered a protein, called CD154, that plays a key role in turning the immune system on or off, a discovery that has important implications both for encouraging a stronger immune response against invaders and for suppressing an immune response after an organ transplant or in response to an autoimmune reaction.
His team is now making important progress on being able to regulate a protein called Vista. If the body’s immune response to cancer can be regulated, it holds great promise for effectively fighting the cancer, and eradicating it.