‘Inside UVA’: From Jersey Shore Lifeguard to UVA Neuroscientist

December 1, 2023 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

Audio: ‘Inside UVA’: From Jersey Shore Lifeguard to UVA Neuroscientist(30:09)

President Ryan’s guest this week is Dr. John Lukens, whose lab is trying to mitigate or cure neurological diseases like ALS and multiple sclerosis.


Dr. John Lukens can move fluently from talk about Philly sports and the latest sneakers to the intricacies of immunology.

Lukens is this week’s guest on University of Virginia President Jim Ryan’s podcast, “Inside UVA.”

He has focused his career on better understanding how the immune system can contribute to the prevention or development of neurological diseases like ALS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Lukens is big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League and baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies and spent his childhood summers visiting the Jersey Shore. “I was actually a lifeguard at Sea Isle City one summer,” he told Ryan.

Today at UVA, he and his team are trying to better understand how to fine-tune immunological responses so the immune system can keep up with fighting off disease instead of burning out.

“You’re basically … getting a look at what might be a mechanism that … could lead to intervening to mitigate or cure Alzheimer’s?” Ryan asked.

“Yeah, exactly,” Lukens responded.

You can learn more about the doctor’s groundbreaking work by tuning into “Inside UVA,” which is streamed on most podcast apps, including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts.

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Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications