Jon Hagar receives G. Philip Manire Graduate Student Excellence in Research Award

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology announced that Jon Hagar is the 2015 G. Philip Manire Graduate Student Excellence in Research Award recipient. For his dissertation work in Ed Miao's lab, Jon has sought to understand how the innate immune system interacts with microbial pathogens and how the immune system becomes dysfunctional during sepsis. Jon's rotation project led to co-first authorship on a Science article showing that caspase-11 detects bacterial pathogens that escape vacuoles and enter the host cytosol. He then determined that caspase-11 detects lipopolysaccharide (LPS). TLR4 was previously believed to be the only sensor for intracellular LPS, so this was a paradigm-shifting result and resulted in another first-author paper in Science. To complete his dissertation, Jon's current work is focused on how LPS signaling mediated by caspase-11 and TLR4 interacts with insulin signaling during endotoxic shock.

The Manire awards for the most significant and impressive doctoral research projects are given in memory of Dr. G. Philip Manire, a friend and mentor to many people in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. Phil served as Chair from 1966 to 1979, years that were marked by a major growth in faculty and international recognition for molecular biology, microbiology, and immunology research at UNC. However, Phil's most lasting professional contribution was his nurturing leadership style that cemented a spirit of collegiality and family among a department of very diverse interests and personalities. 

In 2004, the Department of Microbiology & Immunology set up a trust fund in honor of Phil Manire. Started from a patent royalty, the fund was originally created as a remembrance of Phil’s contributions to the intellectual life of the department and his devotion to graduate education. The fund provides for an annual award to recognize outstanding research by a senior graduate student in the department. Nominations for the award are solicited from the faculty each Spring, and a committee evaluates the applicants based on the quality and significance of the student’s research. The award is $1000 and is considered to be the most prestigious departmental recognition of a graduate student’s research accomplishments.

Twenty-one years after his retirement, Phil passed away on November 4, 2010. Phil’s children have requested that donations in his memory be directed to this same fund as a continuing tribute to his career of commitment to graduate research and education. If you wish to contribute, you can do this online: 

Navigate to