Noted as a pioneer in immunology, Diane Margaret Jacobs has harbored a curiosity for how the world works for as long as she can remember. She grew up during a time when the maths and sciences were still mostly for boys, but with the help of some high school mentors, she persisted. She loved the constant opportunity for discovery that the fields offered, and knew she wanted to contribute in some capacity. It wasn’t until college, however, that Dr. Jacobs was introduced to microbiology and immunology. She quickly took an interest in the subject and decided to pursue it further. In 1961, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Radcliffe College, and in 1967, she earned a PhD from Harvard University.
Degrees in hand, Dr. Jacobs immediately set out into the field. She served as a lecturer and instructor at the Hadassah Medical School of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem from 1967 to 1971, a research associate at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies from 1974 to 1976, and an associate professor of microbiology at the University at Buffalo from 1976 to 1980. Dr. Jacobs made history when she became the first female tenured faculty in the Department of Microbiology at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo in 1980. She remained in that role until 1989, when she joined the staff of East Carolina University as a professor of biology, the dean of the Graduate School, and the associate vice chancellor of research. In 1994, Dr. Jacobs again broke new ground when she became the first female at the vice president level at the University of Central Florida. During her time there, she also served the school as the chair of the Department of Health Professions and as a professor of molecular biology and microbiology. She accepted the distinguished title of professor emerita in 2016.
To keep in touch with her peers and professional community, Dr. Jacobs has been a reviewer for the National Science Foundation since 1989 and a reviewer for the National Institutes of Health since 1977. She has also contributed a variety of articles to the Journal of Immunology, the Journal of Experimental Medicine, and Recent Developmental Mucosal immunity. Additionally, Dr. Jacobs was a member of the Central Florida Innovation Corp board of directors, a councilor for the Oak Ridge Association of Universities, the president of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, and a fellow of The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, among others.
When Dr. Jacobs has free time, she enjoys traveling and genealogical research.