Arup Chakraborty, Ph.D.
Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering
Professor of Chemistry
Professor of Biological Engineering
Phone: (617) 253-3890
Administrative Assistant: Don McGaffigan
Our group works on developing and applying theoretical and computational approaches (rooted in statistical mechanics) to study complex systems involving many interacting components. A central focus of our laboratory is understanding the adaptive immune response to pathogens. T lymphocytes (T cells) are the orchestrators of the adaptive immune response. We are studying how T cells "hunt" for antigen as they migrate in lymphoid tissue, the molecular processes that enable them to discriminate between "self" and "non-self" with extraordinary sensitivity, and the signaling events that ultimately enable T cell activation and the mounting of an immune response. Each of these processes is the result of stochastic and cooperative dynamic events involving many cellular components. The inherent cooperativity of the pertinent processes (which occur over a broad spectrum of length and time scales) makes it difficult to intuit underlying mechanisms from observations of just a few experimental reporters. We develop and apply statistical mechanical approaches to study the dynamic processes pertinent to T cell activation. A special hallmark of these efforts is the close synergy and collaboration between our computational studies and experimental investigations in the world's leading immunology laboratories in medical schools. Our work in this area represents a crossroad of engineering, the physical sciences, and the life sciences, and addresses fundamental questions that are relevant to the development of intervention protocols for combating infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and acts of bioterrorism. Our group is also interested in cell membrane biophysics and biopolymers.
"CD4 Coordinates Lck Accumulation in the Immunological Synapse: Implications for the Sensitivity of T Cells to Antigen", with Q. Li et al.,Nature Immunology, 5, 791 (2004).
"The Immunological Synapse Balances T Cell Receptor Signaling and Degradation", with K.H. Lee et al., Science, 302, 1218 (2003).
"In Silico Models in Molecular and Cellular Immunology: Successes, Promises, and Challenges", with A.S. Shaw and M.L. Dustin, Nature Immunology, 4, 933 (2003).
"An Effective Membrane Model for the Immunological Synapse", with S. Raychaudhuri and M. Kardar, Phys. Rev. Lett., 92, 208101 (2003).
"Synaptic Pattern Formation during Cellular Recognition", with S.Y. Qi et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 98, 6548 (2001).
"Disordered Heteropolymers: Models for Biomimetic Polymers and Polymers with Frustrating Quenched Disorder", Physics Reports, 342, 1 (2000).