Sarah Schlesinger is an Associate Professor of Clinical Investigation and Senior Attending Physician at The Rockefeller University. Schlesinger chairs The Rockefeller University Institutional Review Board and the research education and training committee, which is part of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science. She also serves as director of the Clinical Scholars Program and the Certificate in Clinical and Translational Sciences Program.
Previously, Schlesinger led clinical trials of 11 HIV vaccines and vaccine adjuvants. She also previously conducted the first HIV vaccine trial based on dendritic cells, which were discovered at Rockefeller in 1973 by Ralph M. Steinman and his mentor, Zanvil A. Cohn. Ralph’s discovery was recognized with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2011.
In the steady state, dendritic cells capture antigens and travel to immune or lymphoid tissues, where they present the antigens to T cells, stimulating a robust immune response. But dendritic cells also play a seemingly opposite role, immune tolerance, silencing dangerous immune cells and preventing them from attacking the body’s own tissues. Working with Steinman, Schlesinger used dendritic cells to study and design treatments that can either enhance the immune system or silence its functions in an antigen- or disease-specific manner.