- Director of (IMES) Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Robert T. Haslam (1911) Professor in Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Professor of Chemistry, Biological Engineering, and Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
After an early career in engineering, since 2000, Arup K. Chakraborty’s work has focused on bringing together immunology and statistical physics. Chakraborty’s predictive computational/theoretical work has impacted both experimental basic immunology and infectious disease research. He has especially contributed to our understanding of T cell signaling, T cell development and pathogen specificity, the immunological vulnerabilities of HIV and rational vaccine design. Chakraborty was born in India and immigrated to the USA following the completion of his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur). In December 1988, after earning a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware and postdoctoral studies at the University of Minnesota, Chakraborty became a member of the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2005 he moved to MIT, where he is the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, and Biological Engineering. He is the founding Director of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and he is a founding member of the Ragon Institute of MIT, MGH, and Harvard. Chakraborty’s work at the interface of the physical and life sciences has been recognized by numerous honors, including the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award and the E.O. Lawrence Medal for Life Sciences from the US DOE. He has also received the Allan P. Colburn and Professional Progress awards from the AIChE. Chakraborty was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering for different bodies of work. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and serves on the US Defense Science Board. Chakraborty has also received teaching awards at Berkeley and MIT.
The central focus of Chakraborty’s lab is to understand the mechanistic underpinnings of the adaptive immune response to pathogens, and then to harness this understanding to help design better vaccines and therapies. The work represents a crossroad of the physical and life sciences. Lab members work on developing and applying theoretical and computational approaches (rooted in statistical physics) to study the collective, dynamic, and stochastic processes that underlie a systemic immune response. A hallmark of Chakraborty’s research is the close synergy and collaboration between his lab’s theoretical/computational studies and investigations led by experimental and clinical immunologists. Current interests can be divided into three broad categories: understanding the network of biochemical interactions that enable T cells to translate engagement of membrane receptors to cognate ligands in to functional responses, how T cell development results in T cells that are specific for unknown and emerging pathogens, and the human immune response to HIV. The goal of the last effort is to guide the rational design of vaccines and therapies against infectious disease causing agents, like HIV, that have plagued humanity since antiquity.
A full list of Professor Chakraborty’s publications can be found on his website.