Research Lab of Jonathan Boyson, Ph.D.
Research in our lab is interested in understanding the role of innate-like T cells (NKT, γδ T, and MAIT (mucosa-associated invariant T)) in the host immune response. These unusual T cell subsets preferentially home to peripheral tissues such as the lung, skin, gut, and liver where they are part of the front line of defense against a variety of pathogens. In addition, innate-like T cells are important contributors to the anti-tumor immune response, and they may play important roles in regulating the onset and progression of autoimmune diseases.
What makes innate-like T cells so interesting is that they develop and function in a manner that is fundamentally different than conventional T cells. Unlike conventional T cells, innate-like T cell function appears to be programmed during their development in the thymus, they possess highly restricted T cell receptor repertoires, and they seem to have evolved to recognize and respond to ligands that are quite different from those that conventional T cells recognize.
We are interested in understanding the factors that regulate the development and function of these unusual T cells, how these factors shape the host immune response and ultimately, how they affect health and disease.