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  • 05/28/2024 Yufei won the 2nd place in the Student Research Showcase of UCSD School of Biological Sciences! Congrats! 

  • 05/23/2024 Jibin has qualified the Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy! Congrats!

  • 05/11/2024 Yunlong has decided to start his own lab at the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital! Congrats Professor Zhao!

  • 04/27/2024 George has received a medical school offer from Stony Brook University Renaissance School of Medicine! Congrats!

  • 04/15/2024 Sabrina has chosen the University of Cambridge for undergrad! Congrats!

  • 04/15/2024 Emily has chosen the University of Pennsylvania for undergrad! Congrats!

  • 04/15/2024 Yayuan has chosen to join Yale University for PhD study! Congrats!

  • 01/05/2024 Yufei has received a medical school offer from Beijing Union Medical College! Congrats!

  • 05/24/2023 Isaac has delivered a wonderful master's thesis talk. Congrats!

  • 05/22/2023 Jibin has passed his 2nd year proposition exam. Congrats!

  • 05/08/2023 Our cis-CD28 signaling paper is out on Immunity! Congrats to Yunlong, Yayuan and amazing collaborator Jack Bui!

  • 04/14/2023 Yayuan presented a poster at the BUMMP Annual Student Symposium. Great job!

  • 04/12/2023 Isaac has received offers from multiple PhD programs including UCSD, Duke and UC-Irvine. Congrats!

  • 04/12/2023 Our new CTLA4 paper is out on JEM! Super teamwork by co-1st authors Xiaozheng, Preston and Jibin! Congrats!

  • 03/30/2023 Yufei has been selected as a 2023 UTokyo Amgen Scholar. Congrats!

  • 03/24/2023 Ariane has been admitted to the UCSD Data Science Master's Program. Congrats! 

  • 02/09/2023  Ioanna Andritsogianni joined our group as a research assistant. Welcome!

  • 01/26/2023  Welcome our new lab assistant Alexandra Hotz!

  • 10/13/2022  Takeya has received the PRESTO Award from the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). Congrats!

  • 09/15/2022  Xiaozheng has accepted a Senior Principal Scientist position at Sanofi. Congrats! 

  • 08/31/2022 Preston successfully defended his PhD thesis today! Congrats Dr. Dennett!

  • 08/05/2022 Yunlong has received a K99/R00 Award from NIAID! Congrats!

We work at at the interface of biochemistry, cell biology, and immunology. Our central goal is to dissect the cell biological mechanisms of immune checkpoints, "brakes" of our immune system that can be hijacked by tumors to evade immune destruction. Antibody mediated blockade of immune checkpoints has produced some success in treating a subset of tumors in a fraction of patients. However the response is restricted to a small subset of tumors and patients. Molecular studies of immune checkpoints are needed to expand the therapy to a larger population of patients. Our long-term goal is to fill this mechanistic gap, with a joint use of cell-free reconstitution, live cell imaging and cell culture assays. 

Image by Graham Johnson

Cell free reconstitution: We reconstitute signaling networks on model membranes to gain quantitative, in-depth insights into T cell signaling that are invisible to traditional approaches. 

A giant liposome (red) reconstituted with TCR (receptor) and Lck (kinase), recruited ZAP70 (green) from the solution in respone to ATP addition.

Signaling dynamics: We probe the spatiotemporal dynamics of signaling proteins in live T cells. 

Cell cultures: We develop precise and robust cell culture assays to probe both proximal and distal readouts of immune checkpoints signaling.


Mouse models: We cross-check our findings between in vitro systems and animal models. 

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