Meet Our Researchers


Postdoctoral associate at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Katie Geiger-Schuller’s research focuses on the immune system’s ability to sense and fight disease.

Project Description

Katie will use her BroadIgnite award to investigate how immune cells thwart invaders like carcinogens and allergens. Using a new technology that provides rapid readouts of cellular response to multiple stimuli, she will douse batches of immune cells with asbestos and other triggers—and evaluate the results. If successful, the experiment will shed light on potential treatments and provide a more efficient way to test them.

The Question

When bacteria and viruses invade the body, a special class of immune cells rushes to our defense to determine what kind of response is needed. To learn more about this ability to detect pathogens, I plan to explore two questions: How do these cells sense other potentially damaging foreign substances, like carcinogens and allergens? And can we harness that information to develop treatments for cancer and food allergy?

The Approach

I will use BroadIgnite funding to investigate how the cells that mediate immune response—called antigen-presenting cells—recognize and sense invaders. I will trigger immune response by exposing these cells to common allergens such as peanuts and known carcinogens such as asbestos. Then I will analyze these cells with a new batching technology that will allow me to test multiple carcinogens and allergens at once—significantly reducing experimental costs. My hope is to capture the receptors and signaling pathways involved in immune response and harness that information for new drug targets.