We study how cell signaling pathways and cell-cell communication networks regulate immune cell behavior

...using tools from engineering, biology, and computer science.

T he Miller-Jensen laboratory uses a systems immunology approach: we combine quantitative experiments with integrated computational analyses to account for the multiple molecular and cellular processes, non-linear outputs, and complex intercellular interactions that ultimately enable robust immune regulation. We are specifically focused on the sources and consequences of cellular response diversity. Considering the precision of immune cell responses to diverse pathogenic threats, it is counterintuitive that genetically identical immune cells respond to perturbations with a high degree of cell-to- cell variability, or “noise”; but recent research makes clear that this variability is an indispensable feature of immune system function.

Heterogeneity of macrophage communication behavior. Macrophages are cells of the innate immune system that perform a range of functions important in host defense against pathogens. To carry out diverse functions, macrophages maintain a functional plasticity, or flexibility, in their responses to microenvironmental stimuli, and we hypothesize this is partially enabled by cell-to-cell heterogeneity. We are studying how heterogeneous macrophage subsets coordinate activation of neighboring macrophages and other cells via paracrine signaling in response to pathogens and in the tumor microenvironment.

Regulatory logic of signal–response relationships. We are also interested in the mechanisms that regulate cell-to-cell variability. Single-cell analyses provide a direct way to evaluate signal–response relationships. As a centrally important example, we focus on the NF-κB pathway, which regulates both endogenous inflammatory genes in macrophages and HIV gene expression in T cells. We are studying how targeting cell-to-cell response variability can modulate phenotypic outcomes in these contexts.

About Prof. Miller–Jensen

Kathryn is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Yale. Before joining the faculty, she was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley in the Schaffer laboratory.

Kathryn worked previously at the National Academies, Merck Pharmaceuticals, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Monitor Group. She received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at MIT with Doug Lauffenburger. and her B.E. & B.A. degrees at Dartmouth College.

She can be reached via either of the following methods:

Lab News

Contact us

Our laboratory is located in the heart of the Yale campus between old campus and Science Hill. You can reach us by phone at (203) 432‑4265.

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 208260
New Haven, CT 06520

Office Address
55 Prospect Street
MEC 311
New Haven, CT 06511