David Raulet is an immunologist and cancer researcher who focuses on the role of cytotoxic lymphocytes, including NK cells and T cells, in destroying tumor cells. He is known for defining mechanisms of cancer cell recognition by NK cells; how MHC and MHC-like molecules determine NK cell inhibition, activation and education; intrinsic T cell recognition of MHC molecules; and regulated TCR gene rearrangement. Raulet was born in Buffalo, NY, and grew up in several locations on the east coast and Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Microbiology, and from MIT in 1982, with a PhD in Biology. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He joined the faculty in the Department of Biology at MIT in 1983 and moved to the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1991. He received the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology in 2002. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Association of Immunologists, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

David Raulet's research addresses the specificity of natural killer (NK) cells and T cells, and mechanisms that enable immune cells to detect transformed and infected cells. His current research addresses mechanisms of NK cell activation, inhibition and desensitization, and approaches to manipulate these mechanisms for immunotherapy of cancer. He identified ligands for the NKG2D activating receptor and provided key evidence that this receptor has a central role in immune surveillance of cancer. He defined signals including genotoxic stress, the integrated stress response and hyperproliferation that regulate the sensitivity of cells to elimination by NK cells. Raulet's finding that NK cells in MHC I-deficient mice are hyporesponsiveness was a foundational finding for understanding NK cell 'education.' Raulet and colleagues used MHC gene-targeted mice to show that NK cells attack MHC I-deficient normal cells, providing direct support for the concept that NK cells kill MHC-deficient cells. He showed that the development of CD8 and NKT cells, but not gamma/delta T cells, requires MHC I interactions. He demonstrated that the T cell recognition is intrinsically biased towards MHC recognition prior to thymic selection. He defined T cell receptor gamma and delta-chain gene isoforms, and described mechanisms of developmentally ordered V gene rearrangement.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 43: Immunology and Inflammation