He received a PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Salamanca in 1990, and conducted postdoctoral studies in the Department of Microbiology of the Ichan School fo Meidcine at Mount Sinai, in New York. As a postdoctoral fellow, he was awarded first a NATO fellowship, followed by a Fulbright fellowship. Currently, Dr. García-Sastre is Professor in the Departments of Microbiology and Medicine and Director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
For the past 25 years, his research interest has been focused on the molecular biology of influenza viruses and several other RNA viruses. During his post-doctoral training in the early 1990s, he developed, for the first time, novel strategies for expression of foreign antigens by a negative strand RNA virus, influenza virus. He has made major contributions to the influenza virus field, including 1) the development of reverse genetics techniques allowing the generation of recombinant influenza viruses from plasmid DNA, (studies in collaboration with Dr. Palese); 2) the generation and evaluation of negative strand RNA virus vectors as potential vaccine candidates against different infectious diseases, including malaria and AIDS, and 3) the identification of the biological role of the non structural protein NS1 of influenza virus during infection: the inhibition of the type I interferon (IFN) system.
His studies provided the first description and molecular analysis of a viral-encoded IFN antagonist among negative strand RNA viruses. These studies led to the generation of attenuated influenza viruses containing defined mutations in their IFN antagonist protein that might prove to be optimal live vaccines against influenza. His research has resulted in more than 500 scientific publications and reviews.
Dr. Garcia-Sastre is the director of the Center for Research on Influenza Pathogenesis, one of the five NIAID funded Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance. He was among the first members of the Vaccine Study Section and member of the Virology B Study Section of NIH. In addition, he has served for 5 years as Editor in Journal of Experimental Medicine, is Editor in PLoS Pathogens, Journal of Virology and Virus Research, and member of the Editorial Board of Virology, Vaccine, NPJ Vaccines, Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology and Influenza and Other Respiratory Diseases.
He is a member of the scientific advisory board of Keystone Symposia. He has been a co-organizer of the international course on Viral Vectors (2001), held in Heidelberg, Germany, sponsored by Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS), and of the first Research Conference on Orthomyxoviruses in 2001, held in Teixel, The Netherlands, sponsored by the European Scientific Working Group on Influenza (ESWI). He has also been a co-organizing of the 7th International Society for Vaccines meeting in 2013, and of Keystone Meetings in 2014 on Respiratory Virus Pathogenesis and in 2017 on Interferons. His publication in Science on the reconstruction and characterization of the pandemic influenza virus of 1918 has been awarded with the distinction of the paper of the year 2005 by Lancet. In 2005, he became a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, and in 2009, he received the Beijerink Professorship from the National Academy of Sciences of the Netherlands. In 2011, he has been elected President of the International Society for Vaccines, for 2014 and 2015. In 2017, he has been elected a fellow of the Royal Academy of Pharmacy in Spain.