Amal Amer, MD, PhD, professor of microbial infection and immunity in the College of Medicine, has earned The Ohio State University 2024 Distinguished Scholar Award. Senior leadership in the Enterprise for Research, Innovation and Knowledge and the College of Medicine recently surprised Amer with the honor.     

“I couldn’t have achieved this by myself, my team, my lab, my chair, my colleagues, my collaborators, staff and support teams,” said Amer upon learning of her award. “Ohio State has given me a lot and that’s why I’ve been here for a long time and intend to stay.”


Amer's projects tackle important questions in innate immunity, inflammasome functions, pathogenesis, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Her lab studies the mechanism of bacterial and viral pathogenesis in the lung including Legionella pneumophila, Burkholderia cenocepacia, MRSA, and SARS-CoV-2.

“Dr. Amer’s research has been instrumental in changing approaches used to address inflammation, a driver of many different diseases,” said Peter Mohler, executive vice president for research, innovation and knowledge. “She is also very creative and committed in her work, sharing her passion, determination guidance with trainees who have in turn become successful.”

“She is an incredible scientist, clinician, educator, colleague and mentor. We are so blessed to have her with us at Ohio State,” said Carol R. Bradford, MD, MS, FACS, dean of the College of Medicine. “She is tackling extraordinarily important questions with her research programs, and she is an incredibly collaborative researcher and mentor.”

“Dr. Amer is not only an exceptional scientist who has created new fields in the study of viral and bacterial pathogens of the lung, she also is an exceptional colleague, leader and mentor,” said Eugene Oltz, PhD, chair of the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity, in the college’s nomination letter.

Amer joined Ohio State’s College of Medicine in 2007 as an assistant professor, became a full professor in 2017, and is now the vice chair for translational research in the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity. She has played a central role in bringing together multi-disciplinary translational research teams that include trainees, MDs and PhDs from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Medicine. Amer’s recent work in neuro-inflammation led to the discovery that the inflammasome contributes to Alzheimer’s disease pathobiology and to SARS-CoV-2-mediated brain inflammation. These ongoing NIH-funded topics aim to understand the mechanism by which pathogens evade or exploit host immunity, to establish disease. These projects have implications for the development of new treatments that can apply to different disease conditions. She is a member of the Infectious Diseases Institute and has a courtesy appointment in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine. She earned her doctorate at the University of Western Ontario and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan.  

The Distinguished Scholar Award is among the highest annual honors awarded at Ohio State. The university-level award annually honors six faculty members who demonstrate scholarly activity, conduct research or creative works that represent exceptional achievements in their fields and garner distinction for the university. 

Award recipients are nominated by their departments and chosen by a committee of senior faculty, including past award recipients. Distinguished Scholars receive an honorarium and a research grant to be used over the next three years. 

Quotes from Amer’s nomination:  

“Dr. Amer’s dedication to achieving the highest level of scientific research is exceptional…She is a remarkable scholar and a generous and enthusiastic person. She is greatly appreciated and recognized for her thoughtfulness and foresight that has contributed immensely to our understanding of the field of innate immunity with an outstanding record of service to NIH and Ohio State.” Jenny Pan-yun Ting, University of North Carolina.   

“Amal is credited with defining our present understanding of CF immunopathology. Following this seminal discovery, the CF foundation recognized CF as an immune disorder and acknowledged the role of autophagy in severe inflammation and permissiveness to specific bacteria in CF immune cells.” Katherine A. Fitzgerald, University of Massachusetts.

“Dr. Amer is a pre-eminent leader at (Ohio State) and throughout the microbiology and immunology fields, and her work addresses highly relevant and translationally significant research questions through her groundbreaking thinking and paradigm-shifting ideas.” Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.