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Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor holding his corgi dog.


My work examines the topics of avian immunology and genetics primarily. I am involved in a project called the genetic basis for resistance and immunity to avian disease. The scientists involved look at genes that may contribute to greater resistance to disease or to a greater response against the disease. The secondary part of my work is identifying proteins called alloantigens that may have an influence on immune responses. 

The WVU farm holds chickens that have defined genetics. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, which are important in immune responses, are identified in these chickens. These stocks allow comparisons among different MHC types to determine the types that are most effective against disease. 

In earlier work investigating the response against Rous sarcoma virus, colleagues found that injecting the DNA that encodes the src oncogene, the cancer-causing gene from the Rous sarcoma virus, produced a tumor without having active virus. The outcome of that tumor was controlled by the MHC genes. This information aided understanding of the immune response against cancer. 

What jobs did you have before coming to WVU?

After I finished my Ph.D., I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Medical College of Virginia in the pathology department. Then I worked for 30 years as a faculty member at the University of New Hampshire. I came to WVU in 2014 and have been here now for seven years.

What has been the best or most enjoyable time/class/moment in your education?

In my undergraduate part of education, the best thing about that was that I made friends that I still have to this day. I had a great advisor in grad school. During that time, I also made friends with people who were in research fields related to mine. Grad school was an opportunity for courses and research to focus on a specific objective.

What has been the best or most enjoyable time/class/moment in your job?

I’d say being able to continue my research in the area of avian immunology. I work with good colleagues located around the country. We each do our part and that’s very satisfying.


What’s one thing you wish you had known in college?

I wish that I had been better able to recognize opportunities when they occurred and better able to resist distractions when they occurred.

If you won a billion dollars, what would you do with the money?

A billion dollars - let’s assume for a moment that comes tax free. If you spend a million dollars a day, it would take 2.7 years to spend a billion dollars. 

What I would do is take a good portion of the money and set up four different foundations. One to be run by my wife, one by each of our two children and one by me. Each of these foundations would focus on different areas of interest according to who oversaw that particular foundation. I’d like to fund some research that interests me. I'll also say that the one extravagance would be I'd buy flight time on a private jet and wouldn’t ever fly commercial again.

What were you most grateful for in 2020?

All of my family and extended family survived the pandemic and hope that none of us see that again in our lifetimes.


What about 2021 surprised you most?

The length of time required for things to return to normal, and some of these things are still abnormal. For example, package delivery and availability of certain products.


Just for Fun

What are you currently reading?  Principles by Ray Dalio

What’s your favorite meal? BBQ pork, shrimp and grits, German Chocolate Cake and sweet tea

What’s a song that you can listen to on repeat? As Time Goes By from my favorite movie Casablanca

What's one thing you can't live without? Reese's Peanut Butter Cups