Prior to joining Dynavax in 2000, Dr Coffman was a founding member of the scientific staff of the DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto, CA, USA. Dr Coffman has authored over 200 scientific publications, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Microbiology. He has devoted over 25 years to discovery of the pathways of immune regulation by T cells and cytokines. Dr Coffman demonstrated that interleukin-4 and interferon-g were the principal cytokines regulating IgE production in allergic responses. In 1986, with colleague Dr Tim Mosmann, he defined the two principal subtypes of helper T cells, termed Th1 and Th2 cells, and demonstrated subsequently that all of the major features of allergic responses were co-ordinately regulated by the Th2 subset of T cells. Dr Coffman demonstrated that interleukin-4 mediated class switching to IgE by controlling rearrangement of immunoglobulin genes, and discovered the parallel mechanism for the regulation of IgA responses by transforming growth factor-b.
Dr Coffman has defined mechanisms of T-cell regulation in asthma and infectious and parasitic diseases, and demonstrated the central role of regulatory CD4+ T cells in preventing inflammatory bowel disease. In his current position at Dynavax, Dr Coffman is developing agonists and antagonists for Toll-like receptors, key recognition receptors in innate immunity. These compounds show promise as novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of allergic, infectious, and autoimmune diseases.