Incoming Assistant Professor of Biology
Incoming Core Member, Ragon Institute
Dr. Harikesh Wong completed his PhD in Cell Biology at the University of Toronto, studying molecules at the nanoscale to determine how individual immune cells initiate signalling at short timescales. He then pursued his post-doctoral training with Dr. Ronald N. Germain at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), working at the interface of Immunology and Systems Biology. Here, Dr. Wong combined highly multiplexed imaging, cleared organ volume imaging, and computational modelling to study immune cells at single-cell resolution in tissues, with the goal of understanding how multicellular communication regulates the immune response over much greater spatiotemporal scales. Dr. Wong will open his lab in early 2022 as a Core Member of the Ragon Institute and an Assistant Professor in the MIT Department of Biology.
Immune cells communicate across multiple scales in time and space, forming intercellular circuits that promote or impede the immune response. We employ distinct quantitative fluorescence microscopy methods, computational modelling, and experimental perturbations to study these circuits and their emergent behaviours within intact tissue environments. Ultimately, we seek to understand how imbalanced immune cell communication — due to genetic or environmental variation — results in detrimental host outcomes, including pathogen dissemination, autoimmunity, and tumorigenesis.
The Wong lab is currently interested in three areas:
1) Understanding how intercellular circuits, such as feedback and feedforward, enable immune cells to discriminate between “self” and “non-self” (e.g., pathogens or tumours)
2) Understanding how the immune system controls inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine gradients to promote host defence while limiting bystander tissue damage
3) Developing new computational methods to quantify immune cell spatial organization, dynamics, and communication in high-dimensional imaging data sets