Cherié L. Butts
Cherié L. Butts, Ph.D. (AAI ’10), serves as medical director in the Therapeutics Development Unit at Biogen in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is responsible for assessing immunological treatments for neurodevelopmental disorders. Prior to joining Biogen, she held research and drug development-related evaluation appointments at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Butts obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Texas (UT) MD Anderson Cancer Center-UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, where her research examined dendritic cell (DC)-mediated anti-tumor immunity in patients with metastatic epithelial ovarian cancer. She studied neuroendocrine regulation of dendritic cells in autoimmune and infectious disease models as a postdoctoral fellow in the Section of Neuroendocrine Immunology at NIMH, NIH.
She continued a research focus on neuroendocrine modulation of immunity as a senior staff fellow in the Laboratory of Immunology, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, at the FDA. She examined progesterone shifts in DC-directed T cell responses generated by CPG oligodeoxynucleotides and evaluated tacaribe viral infection of neonatal mice with brain inflammation and neuronal cell damage mediated by T cells. Butts also evaluated immunogenicity and chemistry-manufacturing controls for new drug and biologics applications. While at the FDA, she served as a guest researcher for one year at the NCI, where she examined the role of sex hormones in cancer and colitis.
Butts joined Biogen in 2012 and has contributed in a variety of roles during her tenure there. She first held an appointment as an associate director of Immunology Research, using two- and three-dimensional systems to examine the effect of chemical and mechanical cues on DC function while also facilitating project management responsibilities. In 2015, she became portfolio lead in Strategy and Portfolio Leadership, where she drove strategy for the Neuroimmunology and Acute Neurology group and researched the impact of chemical cues on microglia function and quality of neuron–microglia interactions. She then served as associate medical director in Late-Stage Clinical Development with a focus on leading clinical development activities for multiple sclerosis trials.
In a subsequent role as medical director and head of clinical assessments in Digital and Quantitative Medicine, she used novel instruments in clinical trials with the goal of developing more sensitive and specific measures, easing regulatory acceptance, and reducing clinical trial burden. She also identified gaps in understanding disease pathophysiology for neurodegenerative conditions with the aim of enhancing clinical measurement tools to address these gaps. She was clinical lead for peginterferon beta-1a, approved by the FDA for multiple sclerosis treatment in 2021, and is currently in a health equity assignment focused on reducing time to a correct diagnosis as well as addressing gaps in clinical data.
Butts is a member of the AAI Committee on Public Affairs, where she serves on the NIH and Public Health and Biosecurity (PHB) Subcommittees and has served on the Advocacy Programs Subcommittee. She served as scientific co-author of the AAI primer on the clinical trial vaccine development process produced by the PHB Subcommittee in November 2020.
Butts is a past member and chair of the AAI Minority Affairs Committee (MAC). In addition to leading
AAI diversity programs and meeting sessions as MAC chair, Butts helped expand AAI support of the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Scientists (ABRCMS). She initiated annual AAI co-sponsorship of ABRCMS presentation awards for outstanding student presenters in immunology and spearheaded creation of the AAI Young Scholars Awards. Since 2016, the Young Scholars Awards have provided support for 17 top ABRCMS immunology presenters to attend the AAI annual meeting.
Since 2017, Butts has also served as AAI representative to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Finance Committee. In July 2021, she was named to the FASEB Board of Directors as Treasurer-Elect, becoming the first industry scientist, first African American, and second woman scientist appointed to the position. She will continue as a board officer and serve as chair of the FASEB Finance Committee when she becomes FASEB Treasurer this July.
At Virtual IMMUNOLOGY2021TM, Butts participated as a panelist in the MAC-sponsored “Minority Scientists Experience: Challenging and Overcoming Barriers to Enhancing Diversity and Career Advancement” session. She has served as a table leader at the annual MAC Careers Roundtables session at AAI meetings. Her past AAI awards include the AAI Trainee Abstract Award and AAI Minority Scientist Travel Award.
Butts’s career appointments include service on behalf of the NIH Intramural Program on Research on Women’s Health; Society of Leukocyte Biology Council; Keystone Symposia Board of Directors; National Postdoctoral Association; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute CURE Advisory Board; Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Leadership Board; Massachusetts Economic Development Planning Council; Salem (Massachusetts) State University Board of Trustees (vice chair); and University of Maryland (adjunct professor).