Bottom-up Disentangling of Interacting Cellular Systems
Research in the Shalek lab is directed to the development and application of new technologies that will facilitate our understanding of how cells collectively perform systems-level functions in healthy and diseased states. With respect to technology development, we are leveraging recent advances in nanotechnology and chemical biology to establish a host of core, cross-disciplinary platforms that will collectively enable us to extensively profile and precisely control cells and their interactions within the context of complex systems. With respect to biological applications, we are focusing on how cellular heterogeneity and cell-to-cell communication drive ensemble-level decision-making in the immune system, with an emphasis on “two-body” problems (e.g., host cell-virus interactions, innate immune control of adaptive immunity, tumor infiltration by immune cells). We hope that our work will not only provide broadly applicable experimental tools but also help transform the way in which we think about single cells, cell-cell interactions, diseased cellular states and therapeutics so as to create a new paradigm for understanding and designing systems-level cellular behaviors in multicellular organisms.