The Ingraham Immunology Seminar Series was established to honor and recognize the many contributions of Joseph Sterling Ingraham, PhD, (1920-1997), Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology at Indiana University School of Medicine.
About Joseph Ingraham
Joseph S. Ingraham was born November 13, 1920, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota, where he received a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Chemistry in 1943. Accepting a position as a research chemist at the Armor Co. in Chicago, Ingraham assisted with studies leading to several patents on protein by-products. He enrolled the graduate program at the University of Chicago in 1946 and received his MS in 1947 and his PhD in biochemistry in 1950. Working with his faculty mentor, Professor James Moulder, Ingraham focused on the synthesis of a radioactive, chemically defined antigen for another four years. These investigators would lead to Joe’s life-long interest in immunology.
Contributions to IU School of Medicine
Joe joined the Indiana University faculty as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology in the School of Medicine in 1954. While his first efforts focused on establishing his research program, Joe had a keen interest in graduate education. He was instrumental in the development of the departmental graduate training program, and he worked diligently toward awarding of the first doctoral degree to a graduate student in 1957.
During his initial years on the faculty, Ingraham organized an outstanding graduate course in Immunochemistry which included formal lectures and laboratory exercises. For the next thirty years, Joe would serve as director or co-director of this popular course. A natural teacher, Joe excelled at working with students one-on-one in the laboratory as well as in the classroom. Joe’s enthusiasm stimulated new and seasoned trainees to think carefully about scientific problems, to formulate questions and hypothesis, and to analyze data with precision. Joe engaged students in a variety of venues, including serving as an active instructor for many medical and nursing students throughout his career at Indiana University. He worked purposefully to share his interests in science and medicine with students, as well as conveying his principles for interpreting scientific data, research ethics, and a focus on high standards for laboratory work.
By 1960, Joe’s research team was actively engaged in defining the kinetics of antibody-antigen interactions, resulting in several important research publications. These studies involved precise measurements of serum of antibodies following antigenic stimulation of animals. Their results suggested that the induction of these humoral immune responses was linked to events mediated by immune cells. Yet at that time, there was no procedure available to detect antibody formation by single cells.
Joe and his team devoted much effort to the problem, and in 1961 he conceived a means to isolate cells in the process of secreting antibodies. During a sabbatical leave at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, he worked out the details of this new method. His methodology first published in 1963, along with a similar approached developed at that time by the Nobel Laureate Niels Jerne, provided an experimental basis for many subsequent observations elucidating the cellular activities of antibody secreting B lymphocytes, or plasma cells. Back in Indianapolis, Joe and his dedicated team of students used his approach technique to monitor dynamics of antibody formation, as documented in a series of elegant and novel papers on the genetic restriction of antibody specificity.
Joe hosted many international visitors and colleagues in Indianapolis, given his many scientific discoveries and his keen sense of collaboration and congenial nature. Students and faculty colleagues benefited from these visits via the opportunity to meet many talented scientists and numerous outstanding seminars on topics related to immunology. He shared his expertise as a member of many important scientific societies including: The American Chemical Society, The American Association of Immunologists, The American Society for Microbiology, Societe Francaise d’ Immunologie, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi and the Indiana Academy of Science. In 1965, Joe was elected president of the campus chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific honor society and in 1969 he served as president of the Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiology.
Joe’s many contributions as an educator and a scientist continue to inspire and benefit many including his colleagues, friends and many past and present trainees within the Indianapolis community, Indiana University, and his beloved discipline of Immunology. His many colleagues, former students and his family, including his beloved wife Ruth Ann Ingraham and his children Dr. Loring Joseph Ingraham and Mary Edith Ingraham, continue to support Joe’s desire to nourish training and research in Immunology at Indiana University School of medicine. Through their generosity, an endowment was established which brings many talented and internationally recognized experts in Immunology to Indianapolis and the Indiana University School of Medicine. A list of the many outstanding scholars who have selected for the honor of participating in the Ingraham Seminar Series in Indianapolis is provided here.