Our Research

Decoding macrophages and microglia in development, health and disease

Overview: Macrophages are dynamic and versatile innate immune cells that are strategically positioned in virtually all the organs of the body, yet many important questions about macrophages remain open. These include: how do macrophages take residence in various organs? How are they programmed to exquisitely switch on and off during an immune response? How do they coordinate with each other and with other cell types over long distances in health and disease? 

Mission: The long-term objective of our research is to understand the detailed molecular rules and the intra-/extra- cellular interactions controlling macrophage states, behaviors, functions, and differentiation in vivo. We are developing new tools integrating multi-omics data with targeted genetic studies, unbiased genetic and chemical screens, and in vivo imaging to comprehensively dissect these critical processes. Our investigations have implications for the design of macrophage-targeted technologies and addressing public health challenges associated with inflammation and immune dysregulation.  

Approach: We integrate state-of-the-art technologies in live imaging, genetics, genome editing, functional genomics, and cell biology to uncover and understand in-depth innate immune functions in tissue development and homeostasis. From genes to single cells to whole organism, we are tackling questions using primarily the zebrafish model system to reveal and connect mechanisms at multiple scales. We will use cross-species experimentation to address evolutionarily conserved mechanisms that extend to mice and humans.

Current major directions

Direction 1. Development and function of tissue-resident macrophages
Direction 2. Cell-cell interactions between macrophages and other systems
Direction 3. Regulatory mechanisms of macrophage states