News Release

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai names new chair of microbiology

Ana Fernandez-Sesma, PhD, a distinguished investigator, brings leadership experience in virology, vaccinology, immunology, and microbiology

Business Announcement

The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Ana Fernandez-Sesma, PhD, has been appointed Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Fernandez-Sesma will direct all educational and research functions of the Department, while cultivating an academic culture that advances insights into virology, vaccinology, immunology, and microbiology, and encourages innovative approaches to teaching and mentoring.  

Dr. Fernandez-Sesma has distinguished herself as an investigator focused on the mechanisms of immune evasion used by viruses, including dengue (DENV), influenza, the human immunodeficiency virus, Zika, and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to establish infection in humans. Her research has uncovered the mechanisms used by RNA viruses, such as DENV, to circumvent the host immune responses and the role of cellular elements, such as mitochondrial DNA, to alert the immune system after RNA viral infections.

Dr. Fernandez-Sesma has been ranked among the top National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded investigators in microbiology in the United States. She was a member of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Scientific Advisory Council of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the NIH from 2018 to 2022, when she also chaired the NIH/NIAID Human Immunology Project Consortium Steering Committee. Currently, she participates in several NIH-funded multi-investigator projects and is the lead investigator of the Viral Immunity and Vaccination Human Immunology Project Consortium.

“Dr. Fernandez-Sesma is uniquely qualified to lead the department in the wake of this pandemic, building upon the trailblazing science advancements made by the esteemed faculty of microbiology and virology, and propelling the reputation of the department,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of Icahn Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs of the Mount Sinai Health System. “I am honored that she brings her immense experience and passion as we continue the advancement of innovative approaches in microbiology and virology at Icahn Mount Sinai.”

Dr. Fernandez-Sesma is an alumna of Icahn Mount Sinai, having earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences and MS in Biomedical Sciences from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

She is highly dedicated to graduate education and mentoring, and co-directed the Microbiology Main Training Area of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Icahn Mount Sinai from 2010 to 2020. She has also mentored numerous students as well as postdoctoral fellows in her laboratory.

She has co-authored numerous publications in virology and immunology journals, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Virology, and is a section editor for mSphere and PLoS Pathogens. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a recipient of the Jacobi Medallion and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Institute for Medical Education at Icahn Mount Sinai, and is also an honorary alumna of the University of Salamanca in Spain.

About the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai:

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is internationally renowned for its outstanding research, educational, and clinical care programs. It is the sole academic partner for the eight member hospitals* of the Mount Sinai Health System, one of the largest academic health systems in the United States, providing care to a large and diverse patient population. Ranked 14th nationwide in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and among the 99th percentile in research dollars per investigator according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Icahn Mount Sinai has a talented, productive, and successful faculty. More than 3,000 full-time scientists, educators and clinicians work within and across 34 academic departments and 35 multidisciplinary institutes, a structure that facilitates tremendous collaboration and synergy. Our emphasis on translational research and therapeutics is evident in such diverse areas as genomics/big data, virology, neuroscience, cardiology, geriatrics, as well as gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Icahn Mount Sinai offers highly competitive MD, PhD, and Master’s degree programs, with current enrollment of approximately 1,300 students. It has the largest graduate medical education program in the country, with more than 2,000 clinical residents and fellows training throughout the Health System. In addition, more than 550 postdoctoral research fellows are in training within the Health System. To learn more, please visit

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