Dr. Gerald Sonnenfeld received his B.S. in Biology in 1970 from the City College of New York and his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology in 1975 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He completed postdoctoral training in infectious diseases and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1978. He then became an assistant professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and rose though the ranks to professor.
In 1993, Dr. Sonnenfeld became Director of Research Immunology in the Department of General Surgery Research of Carolinas Medical Center. In 1999, he took up the position of Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Biochemistry and Immunology and Associate Dean for Basic Sciences and Graduate Studies at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Dr. Sonnenfeld next served as Vice President for Research and Professor of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University, State University of New York. In September of 2010, he took up the position of Vice President for Research and Professor of Biological Sciences at Clemson University. In 2012, he transitioned to head a new health research and development initiative for Clemson University and the Greenville Health System. He became Vice President for the School of Health Research for Clemson University and Chief Science Officer of the Greenville Health System. In 2013, Dr. Sonnenfeld took up his current position as Vice President for Research and Economic Development at the University of Rhode Island.
Dr. Sonnenfeld has published over 140 peer-reviewed scientific articles, numerous review articles and edited two books. He holds two US patents. Dr. Sonnenfeld is associate editor of the Journal of Interferon and Cytokine Research, and a member of the editorial board of the Immunological Journal and the Journal of Gravitational Physiology. His research has centered on the effects of stress on the immune system and resistance to infection and cancer. He has also directed multiple pre-clinical studies and been involved in clinical study development for multiple immunoregulatory agents. He has carried out multiple experiments on the US Space Shuttle and on Russian space program satellites.
Dr. Sonnenfeld has been a member of the Graduate Research, Education and Training Group Steering Committee, Association of American Medical Colleges. He was also chair of the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Association of Immunologists (AAI). In May of 2010, Dr. Sonnenfeld received the career Distinguished Service Award of the AAI for dedication and exemplary service to the Minority Affairs Committee. Dr. Sonnenfeld also is a member of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Finance Committee. Dr. Sonnenfeld is past-president of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology and has won the Founder’s Award in recognition of distinguished scientific contributions and the Orr T. Reynolds Distinguished Service Award from that Society. Dr. Sonnenfeld was a member of the Committee on Space Biology and Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. He was program director for the national life sciences postdoctoral program of NASA and the postdoctoral fellowship program for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. He was chair of the scientific council of the Division of Space Life Sciences of the Universities Space Research Association. He is currently a member of the Program Steering Committee of the Morehouse School of Medicine-Tuskegee University-University of Alabama Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center Cancer Research Partnership, and of the University of California, Davis External Advisory Committee for the Medical Scientist Training Program of the Clinical and Translational Science initiative.