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Alex Shalek

Alex Shalek, Ph.D.

Alex K. Shalek is an institute member of Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. To date, Shalek’s interdisciplinary research has focused on developing and utilizing nanoscale manipulation and measurement technologies to understand how small components (e.g., molecules, cells) drive systems of vast complexity (e.g., cellular responses, population behaviors).

Currently, research in the Shalek lab is directed towards the creation and implementation of new technologies to understand how cells collectively perform systems-level functions in healthy and diseased states. Their technology development leverages recent advances in genomics, chemical biology, and nanotechnology to establish cross-disciplinary platforms for in-depth profiling and precise manipulation of cells and their interactions. Examples include microdevices for massively parallel single-cell genomics, strategies for simultaneously measuring diverse cellular variables, microfluidic tools for controlling the cellular microenvironment, and approaches for engineering and profiling cell-cell interactions. Their biological applications focus on the roles of cellular heterogeneity and cell-to-cell communication in driving immune responses. Current studies examine how innate and adaptive immune cells coordinate balanced responses to environmental changes, how host cell-pathogen interactions evolve across time and tissues during HIV-1 and M. tuberculosis infection, and how tumor cells evade immune responses. Overall, the lab’s goal is to realize broadly applicable experimental and computational platforms to uncover common cellular motifs that inform healthy and diseased immune responses. Using this information, they aim to help transform how the community thinks about single cells, cell-cell interactions, diseased tissues and processes, and therapeutics, to create a new paradigm for understanding and designing systems-level multicellular behaviors.

In addition to his role at Broad, Shalek is the Pfizer-Laubach Career Development Assistant Professor at MIT, as well as a core member of the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, an assistant professor of chemistry at MIT, and an extramural member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. He is also an associate member of the Ragon Institute, an assistant in immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and an instructor in health sciences and technology at Harvard Medical School.

Shalek received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University in chemical physics.

January 2019