After an early career in engineering, since 2000, Arup K. Chakraborty’s work has focused on bringing together immunology and statistical physics. Chakraborty’s predictive computational/theoretical work has impacted both experimental basic immunology and infectious disease research. He has especially contributed to our understanding of T cell signaling and pathogen specificity, the immunological vulnerabilities of HIV and rational vaccine design. Chakraborty was born in India, and immigrated to the USA after an undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur). In December 1988, after earning a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware and postdoctoral studies at the University of Minnesota, Chakraborty became a member of the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2005 he moved to MIT, where he is the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, Physics, and Chemistry. He was appointed the founding Director of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and he is a founding member of the Ragon Institute of MIT, MGH, and Harvard. Chakraborty is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He serves on the US Defense Science Board.

Research Interests

The central focus of Chakraborty's lab is to understand the mechanistic underpinnings of the adaptive immune response to pathogens, and then to harness this understanding to help design better vaccines and therapies. The work represents a crossroad of the physical and life sciences. Lab members work on developing and applying theoretical and computational approaches (rooted in statistical physics) to study the collective, dynamic, and stochastic processes that underlie a systemic immune response. A hallmark of Chakraborty's research is the close synergy and collaboration between his lab's theoretical/computational studies and investigations led by experimental and clinical immunologists. Current interests can be divided into three broad categories: understanding the network of biochemical interactions that enable T cells to translate engagement of membrane receptors to cognate ligands in to functional responses, how T cell development results in T cells that are specific for unknown and emerging pathogens, and the human immune response to HIV. The goal of the last effort is to guide the rational design of vaccines and therapies against infectious disease causing agents, like HIV, that have plagued humanity since antiquity.

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Primary Section

Section 33: Applied Physical Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 43: Immunology and Inflammation