Immunology, t-cell receptor, molecular recognition, signaling, membrane channels
1993 University of California, San Diego B.S. 06/93
2001 University of California, Berkeley Ph.D. 05/01
2011 Stanford University Postdoc 11/05
2005-2012 Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago
2012-2015 Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago
2015-present Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago
2017-present Joseph Regenstein Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Chicago
- 2009-11 Kavli Fellow
- 2007-10 Searle Scholar
- 2007 Cancer Research Foundation Junior Investigator Award
- 2004-05 NIH Postdoctoral Training Grant
- 2001-04 Cancer Research Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship
- 2002 Henzl-Gabor Travel Fellowship
- 2001 Katherine McCormick Fund for Women
- 1999 Department of Integrative Biology Research Grant
- 1998 Department of Integrative Biology Research Grant
- 1993 Graduate, Cum Laude
- 1993 Phi Beta Kappa
- 1993 Golden Key National Honor Society
Our lab is focused on understanding how events at the molecular level (i.e. protein-protein interactions) allow the immune system to discriminate between self and non-self. Several of the projects in the lab focus on studying the molecular recognition mechanisms of unconventional T cells including γδ T cells, a lineage of T cells that remain much of an enigma in how they function in the vertebrate immune response. We approach this problem at many different levels: genetics, protein biochemistry, structure, biophysics and cell biology/imaging.
What do γδ T cells recognize as ligands and how do they do it? γδ T cells constitute a minority (1-5%) of circulating T cells but are prevalent in epithelial tissues such as the digestive, reproductive and respiratory tracts. These cells perform a variety of effector functions ranging from cytokine release and cytotoxicity to immune modulation and wound healing. With the exception of a few defined ligands, it is essentially unknown what signals activate the effector functions of these cells through their T cell receptors (TCRs). We are studying the features of γδ TCRs that modulate T cell recognition. We are also pursing other ligands for γδ T cells, studying them by combining flow cytometry (FACS), biophysical measurements such as SPR, and structure determination using x-ray crystallography.
Lipids as antigens in immune recognition. We are interested in how the immune system discriminates between self and non-self through receptor/ligand interactions. Conventional αβ T cells do so through recognition of peptide presented in the context of MHC molecules, but our interest lies in how lipids can be used for self/non-self recognition. Some of our studies include structural, biophysical and functional studies of T cells that respond to the lipid presenting MHC molecules CD1c and CD1d.