MIT Chemistry Directory

Arup K Chakraborty

Director of IMES and Professor
Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering
Professor of Chemistry, Physics, and Biological Engineering

Research Interests

Humans have an adaptive immune system which is remarkable in that it enables us to mount pathogen – specific responses against a diverse and evolving world of pathogens.  The central focus of our group is to understand the mechanistic underpinnings of the adaptive immune response to pathogens, and harness this understanding to help design better vaccines and therapies. Our work represents a crossroad of the physical and life sciences.  The adaptive immune response is mediated by collective dynamic processes with many participating components.  These collective processes span a spectrum of scales, from molecules to the scale of the organism (a human), and are inherently stochastic in character.  We work on developing and applying theoretical and computational approaches (rooted in statistical physics) to study these processes.  A hallmark of these efforts is the close synergy and collaboration between our theoretical/computational studies and experimental investigations in leading immunology laboratories and by clinicians in medical schools.   Current interests can be divided into three broad categories.  We are interested in understanding the molecular interactions that enable T cells, orchestrators of the adaptive immune response, to translate engagement of surface receptors to pathogens in to function. We are interested in how T cell development in the thymus results in T cells that are specific for unknown and emerging pathogens.  We work on understanding the human immune response to HIV, with the goal of aiding efforts to design a vaccine against this scourge on the planet. Our group is also interested in cell membrane biophysics.

Biographical Sketch

Arup K. Chakraborty is the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, and Biological Engineering at MIT.  He is the founding Director of MIT’s Institute of Medical Engineering and Science.  He is also a founding member of the Ragon Institute of MIT, MGH, and Harvard, which is focused on multi-disciplinary approaches to understand human immunology and develop a vaccine against HIV and other scourges on the planet. After obtaining his PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Delaware, and postdoctoral studies at the University of Minnesota, he joined the faculty at the University of California at Berkeley in December 1988.  He rose through the ranks, and ultimately served as the Warren and Katherine Schlinger Distinguished Professor and Chair of Chemical Engineering, Professor of Chemistry, and Professor of Biophysics at Berkeley.  He was also Head of Theoretical and Computational Biology at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  In 2005, Arup moved to MIT. Arup’s work at the interface of the physical, life, and engineering sciences has been recognized by many honors that include a NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the E.O. Lawrence Memorial Award for Life Sciences, the Allan P. Colburn and Professional Progress awards of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award, a Miller Research Professorship, and a National Young Investigator award.  Arup is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Contact Information

t: 6172533890





Administrative Assistant

Renée Saindon


Tel: (617) 258-7040

Room E25 - 348
77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139