Joseph W. Brewer, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Immunology and Chair
Department of Molecular and Cellular Sciences
Dr. Brewer earned a B.S. in Molecular Biology at Auburn
University (’90) and a Ph.D. in Immunology at Duke
University (’95). He then completed a post-doctoral
fellowship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Dr. Brewer has 14 years of faculty experience in medical
and graduate education in the biomedical sciences.
He has mentored a number of trainees including medical students for summer research experiences and 5 graduate students for Ph.D. dissertation research projects.
Dr. Brewer enjoys helping others comprehend how and why biological processes work. As a medical educator, his mission is to help aspiring physicians grasp basic molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying normal functions of the human body, thereby providing the foundation necessary to understand disease, preventative care and therapy.
As an undergraduate, Dr. Brewer developed a strong curiosity in the immunological mechanisms that defend the body against infection. Pursuing this interest, he performed graduate studies on antibody structure and assembly. As a post-doctoral fellow, he expanded his research interests into cellular stress response mechanisms. Dr. Brewer served on the faculty at the Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University, Chicago, for 8 years and then at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine for 6 years. As an independent investigator, he maintained an active research program, supported by extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health. His laboratory investigates the role of a cellular stress response mechanism, termed the unfolded protein response (UPR), in the differentiation of B lymphocytes into plasma cells that secrete thousands of antibody molecules each second. Antibodies provide host defense against infectious agents and can mediate autoimmune diseases when produced by auto reactive B cells, underscoring the need to define the mechanisms underlying plasma cell differentiation and antibody production. Importantly, UPR signaling has also been implicated in a number of pathophysiologic processes such as cancer.
Dr. Brewer and his wife, Pamela, have 2 daughters and a son. Together, they enjoy outdoor activities, sightseeing, and serving in their home church, especially working in children’s ministries.