Steven L. Kunkel, PhD Steven L. Kunkel, PhD
Executive Vice Dean for Research, U-M Medical School
Chief Scientific Officer, Michigan Medicine
Peter A. Ward Distinguished University Professor
Endowed Professor of Pathology Research

Steven L. Kunkel, PhD, became the executive vice dean for research and chief scientific officer on Oct. 1, 2019. In his role, he oversees all aspects of research along the spectrum of basic, translational clinical research and clinical trials.

Prior to this role, he was the senior associate dean for research for 11 years. His long and robust history with U-M began in 1980 and includes serving as the Endowed Professor of Pathology Research and the Peter A. Ward Distinguished University Professor. Additional leadership roles include the associate vice president for research at UMOR, associate dean for interdisciplinary studies in the Horace Rackham Graduate School, interim dean of the Horace H. Rackham Graduate School, and interim vice provost for academic affairs.

Steve’s research interests have centered on assessing molecular mechanisms of lung inflammation by studying cytokine and chemokine biology. He has co-authored over 650 peer-reviewed manuscripts, edited four books, contributed chapters in numerous books, and has maintained multiple NIH grants over a span of 35 years. He has chaired multiple international conferences on cytokine biology and inflammation, including Keystone meetings and Gordon Conferences. In addition, he was the past chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Kunkel is one of the founders of Opsidio, a biotech company developing biologics to treat chronic inflammation.

He received his PhD from the University of Kansas in microbiology and served his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Get to Know

What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?

I have always been curious to 'peek at nature' and to ask the question, 'why/how does nature work the way it does?' Having this philosophy, I was significantly inspired by Dr. Art Hirata, an immunologist at the University of Kansas, where I received my Ph.D. He was an early mentor who opened the field of immunology to me and opened the door to a post-doctoral position to the laboratory of Dr Peter Ward. Dr Ward, who is still a faculty member at Michigan Medicine, was an additional mentor who provided me with numerous opportunities to pursue my investigations into immunology.

What do you love most about the job?

The best aspect of my job is to be able to interact with the finest people the University has to offer, both in a laboratory and an administrative setting. We are about people, not bricks and mortar. I am always learning from the individuals with whom I interact.

What is your favorite way to unwind at the end of a busy day or relax on the weekend?

My house sits on a number of acres and I enjoy “getting mentally relaxed” by working to keep the garden, flower beds, and woodland under control. I have also been a beekeeper for a number of years and tending to my flock of bees has been a welcome hobby.

Featured Articles The Fundamentals Podcast Hero Card Final 1800 x 1350
The Fundamentals
Good collaborators are why I stayed
An interview with Dr. Steven Kunkel on research at U-M Medical School.