The interdisciplinary research in the Shalek Lab aims to create and implement new approaches to elucidate cellular and molecular features that inform tissue-level function and dysfunction across the spectrum of human health and disease. This encompasses both the development of broadly enabling technologies as well as their application to characterize, model, and rationally control complex multicellular systems. With respect to technology development, we couple genomics, chemical biology, and nanotechnology to establish accessible, broadly-applicable cross-disciplinary platforms that enable us and others to profile and control cells and their interactions within complex multicellular systems. In addition to sharing this toolbox to empower mechanistic scientific inquiry across the global research community, we are applying it to uncover principles that inform ensemble immune responses within tissues, focusing on the roles of cellular heterogeneity and cell-to-cell communication. Current studies with partners around the world seek to methodically dissect human disease to understand links between cellular features and clinical observations, including how: immune cells coordinate balanced responses to environmental changes with tissue-resident cells; host cell-pathogen interactions evolve across time and tissues during pathogenic infection; and, tumor cells evade homeostatic immune activity. From these observations and those of others, we aim to construct a unified understanding how disease alters tissue function at the cellular level and realize therapeutic and prophylactic interventions to reestablish or maintain human health. Overall, we hope that our principled, comprehensive approach not only provides valuable experimental and computational tools to advance many avenues of scientific inquiry, but also transforms how the community studies and engineers human immune responses in tissues.
The Shalek Lab creates and implements new approaches to elucidate cellular and molecular features that inform tissue-level function and dysfunction across the spectrum of human health and disease.
Alex K. Shalek
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Core Member, Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, MIT
Extramural Member, The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT
Member, Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard
Institute Member, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Assistant in Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Instructor, Health Sciences and Technology, Harvard Medical School