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Faculty Feature Anthony Orvedahl

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Anthony Orvedahl, MD, PhD, was born in Denver, CO. He is the product of a professionally eclectic family: his father worked in the aerospace industry; mother was a homemaker and administrative assistant; older brother an accomplished comedian; and younger brother a woodworker. His paternal grandfather designed one of the earliest computers at the Los Alamos National Lab. Prior to embarking on the path to becoming a physician scientist, Anthony spent his Colorado summers skateboarding and his winters snowboarding. While the term “adulting” had not yet been coined, he avoided whatever that entails as long as possible. When this approach proved untenable, he matriculated at the University of Colorado, and subsequently graduated with summa cum laude honors for work on cell death in the round worm C. elegans. He first caught the research bug during a summer undergraduate program studying inflammatory responses mediated by Toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are conserved from humans to fruit flies. After graduating, he descended from these lofty altitudes to the plains of north Texas, where he continued to satisfy an appetite for research studying the role of cellular autophagy (“self-eating”) in antiviral host defenses under the mentorship of Beth Levine, MD. Intriguingly, some of the genes required to rid cells of invading viruses were also important for clearing damaged mitochondria. This helped to spark his interests in how cell intrinsic mechanisms of host defense have evolved to ensure homeostasis both during responses to infection and at steady state.

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