ngineering approaches grounded in immunology hold the key to the discovery and development of novel treatments for cancer, infectious disease, and autoimmunity. To this end, the overarching goal of the Irvine laboratory is to engineer immunity through a fusion of immunology with biotechnology and materials chemistry, employing a materials science-centric approach to create new therapies based on the controlled modulation of the immune system. Our work toward this goal divides into three complimentary themes, all focused on adapting engineering principles to enhance the ability of the immune system to prevent and treat human disease:
1. Smart materials and nanotechnology for enhanced vaccines against infectious disease and cancer. We develop synthetic materials as adjuvants and delivery systems that shape the immune response elicited by vaccination, and study the underlying biological mechanisms governing this response.
2. Nanomaterials-enabled immunotherapy. Here we are exploring strategies to promote, amplify, and maintain anti-tumor immune responses by controlling where and when cells of the immune system receive stimulatory cues, and seeking to overcome the immunosuppressive milieu developed in solid tumors.
3. New tools for manipulating and monitoring the immune system. We develop biomaterials-based approaches to monitor and manipulate immune cells, to increase our fundamental understanding of the immune system and invent new methods for monitoring immunity in humans.