Jan Novak

Plenary Session 4 presentation title: “25 years since IgA1 glycosylation changes were first described-what will the next 25 years bring?”

Jan Novak, MSc, PhD
Professor, Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA

Jan Novak is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), Alabama, USA. He received BS and MS in Biology from the Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic and PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from the Czech Academy of Sciences. He has been at UAB since 1992, first in the Department of Oral Biology and since 1997 in the Department of Microbiology.

Dr. Novak’s major research interests include glycoimmunobiology and functional glycomics, as they relate to structure and function of antibodies and other glycoproteins in health and disease and new approaches for diagnosis/prognosis and/or treatment of specific diseases, informing the emerging field of Glycomedicine. Major topics are related to renal diseases and autoimmune diseases (IgA nephropathy and other chronic diseases of the kidney), cancer, and mucosal infections, including sexually transmitted diseases, such as those caused by Trichomonas vaginalis or HIV. Other interests include biologically active compounds, including characterization of active compounds in Chinese traditional herbal medicine.

Dr. Novak has been involved in collaborative interdisciplinary studies related to glycoimmunobiology in human health and disease. With his colleagues and collaborators, they pioneered studies of glycosylation of IgA1 and IgG and the changes associated with autoimmune diseases, such as IgA nephropathy and IgA vasculitis with nephritis. He and his colleagues generated immortalized IgA1-producing cells as a new tool for studies of pathways leading to galactose deficiency of O-glycans on IgA1 in IgA nephropathy. Furthermore, his group characterized unique IgG autoantibodies specific for the aberrantly glycosylated IgA1 in patients with IgA nephropathy and defined the autoimmune character of the disease, wherein the aberrant IgA1 in the main autoantigen. These discoveries led to a multi-hit hypothesis for the pathogenesis of IgA nephropathy, a current “roadmap” for development of disease-specific treatment and biomarkers. This hypothesis has been supported by the finding that IgG in glomeruli of patients with IgA nephropathy is enriched for autoantibodies specific for aberrantly glycosylated IgA1. Furthermore, he and his colleagues provided in vivo evidence for a pathogenic role of immune complexes consisting of aberrantly glycosylated IgA1 bound by IgG autoantibodies.

Dr. Novak published 196 peer-reviewed publications and 20 book chapters. He is an active member of American Society of Nephrology (ASN), member of a steering committee of the International IgA Nephropathy Network, a guest editor for special issues in J. Clin. Med. and Front. Immunol., and frequently serves as a reviewer of manuscripts for multiple scientific journals. He is a member of the editorial board and an Associate Editor for the journal Kidney Diseases. In 2012, he co-organized ASN early program, a 2-day conference on Alloimmunity and autoimmunity. In 2013, he co-organized at UAB a mini-symposium “Glycoimmunobiology 2013” and in 2018 together with several colleagues at UAB established a new advanced glycobiology course “Glycosylation in health and diseases”.

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