Jeffrey Hubbell named ‘Hero of Medicine’ by Halo Foundation

Jeffrey Hubbell, the Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME), has been recognized with a 2019 Hero of Medicine award by the Halo Foundation.

Hubbell was among three recipients who received the award at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago on October 12 at an event to celebrate the achievements of scientists who have improved the lives of society through their medical research. 

He was nominated for his extensive work on developing new vaccines that aim to alleviate autoimmune disease responses. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s natural immune system revolts against its own healthy cells and tissues.

The vaccines Hubbell and his team of researchers develop are known as inverse vaccines. Instead of triggering the body’s “fight” mechanisms, these vaccines calm the immune system down by activating a host of milder, regulatory, business-as-usual responses.

His lab is developing specialized inverse vaccines for a wide variety of autoimmune diseases. The group’s vaccines for multiple sclerosis and celiac disease are soon to undergo phase 1 clinical trials.

“I am grateful to win the Hero of Medicine title as a bioengineer working in medicine,” said Hubbell. “Bioengineers work at the front end, exploring new hypotheses and working with animal models in the early stages of therapeutics development. We conduct research in the lab and usually don’t engage directly with patients. But for my group’s research to emerge from the lab into the real-world and affect improvements on societal lives—that has always been my dream.”