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R. Keith Reeves, PhD, Joins Duke Surgery's Center of Human Systems Immunology

Thursday, September 23, 2021
By Zoë Eckman, Section of Surgical Disciplines
Illustration of a virus

Photo above: Graphic illustration of HIV virus created by Megan Llewellyn, CMI.

R. Keith Reeves, PhD, Instructor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Surgical Sciences, joined Duke in June as a tenured Professor of Surgery. At the same time, he became the Director of the Division of Innate and Comparative Immunology and the Head of Innovation Partnerships for the Center for Human Systems Immunology. He currently leads a lab of approximately 20 individuals while continuing to mentor fellows, students, and junior faculty.

Dr. Reeves’ interest in infectious diseases was sparked in middle school after finding a book about AIDS on the floor of the library, and it grew while studying feline immunodeficiency virus at a veterinary virology laboratory as an undergraduate.

Roger Reeves, PhD
Dr. R. Keith Reeves,
Professor of Surgery,
Division of Surgical Sciences

Dr. Reeves received his PhD from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 2007. His postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School and the New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC) began on attenuated lentivirus vaccines, but later transitioned to studies on natural killer (NK) cell biology and innate lymphoid cells in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections.

Dr. Reeves started his own lab at NEPRC and, later, the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where prior to his move to Duke he was Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Advanced Technologies for the Harvard Center for AIDS Research. This career trajectory has led him to become known as a global expert in NK cell biology, especially for nonhuman primates (NHPs).

The Writer–Scientist

A youthful passion for journalism and writing means Dr. Reeves joins Duke with an advanced knowledge of the importance of writing.

"Much of what you really spend your time doing, once you get to a certain level as a scientist, is write," says Dr. Reeves. “It is one of my passions in many ways since it is how we convey our work.”

He serves as Editor-in-Chief for AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, is an editor and reviewer for numerous other journals, and is a contributing author on more than 80 peer-reviewed publications of his own.

"Duke is really going to give [my group] a new opportunity to build on their strength of immunology in NHP's that was primarily geared toward infectious diseases, but really apply that and collaborate with the Department of Surgery on looking at different cancers and transplantation because there’s such strength in those areas here, and we hope to add our expertise in NK cell biology to build some exciting new collaborations."

- R. Keith Reeves, PhD, Professor of Surgery

Dr. Reeves especially values the transfer of ideas facilitated at Duke, and the Department of Surgery’s diversity allows for developments unlikely to occur elsewhere. Dr. Reeves’ studies of HIV/SIV and NK cells has expanded to include projects on SARS-CoV-2, hepatitis C, influenza, and cytomegalovirus in the last several years, but he also hopes to capitalize on new momentum at Duke to further grow nascent programs in immunotherapeutics, cancer biology, and in particular transplant research.

Dr. Reeves explains, “Duke is really going to give [my group] a new opportunity to build on their strength of immunology in NHP's that was primarily geared toward infectious diseases, but really apply that and collaborate with the Department of Surgery on looking at different cancers and transplantation because there’s such strength in those areas here, and we hope to add our expertise in NK cell biology to build some exciting new collaborations.”

Dr. Reeves’ work encompasses many areas—research and scholarship, education, experimentation, infectious diseases, surgery, writing, and publication—standing out as both a global leader and a perfect new addition to the department.

 

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