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David Underhill, PhD

Associate Director, Division of Immunology Research

Director, Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine

Janis and William Wetsman Family Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Professor, Medicine

Professor, Biomedical Sciences

David Underhill, PhD

Associate Director, Division of Immunology Research

Director, Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine

Janis and William Wetsman Family Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Professor, Medicine

Professor, Biomedical Sciences

The research of David Underhill, PhD, focuses on the molecular mechanisms by which blood phagocytes such as macrophages and dendritic cells recognize microbes and initiate inflammatory responses. We are constantly exposed to microbes, both as infectious organisms and as commensal organisms living normally in, for example, our intestines. A central question in immunology is to understand how inflammatory responses are directed specifically against infectious organisms, and how these responses become tailored to specific microbial infections. The laboratory has a long-standing interest in the role of phagocytosis, the process by which immune cells eat foreign microbes, and how this contributes to inflammation. The group is also interested in how the intestinal microbiome, especially the fungi in the gut, regulate immune responses and contribute to inflammatory diseases of the gut. Underhill and his lab members believe that understanding how macrophages and dendritic cells translate recognition of microbes into inflammatory responses will lead to the design of targeted interventions to clinically manipulate these processes.

  • Established Investigator, American Heart Association, 2006
  • Wolf AJ, Reyes CN, Liang W, Becker C, Shimada K, Wheeler ML, Cho HC, Popescu NI, Coggeshall KM, Arditi M, Underhill DM. Hexokinase is an innate immune receptor for the detection of bacterial peptidoglycan. Cell. 2016;166(3):624-636.
  • Wheeler ML, Limon JJ, Agnieszka SB, Leal CA, Gargus M, Tang J, Brown J, Funari VA, Wang HL, Crother T, Arditi M, Underhill DM*, Iliev ID. Immunological consequences of intestinal fungal dysbiosis. Cell Host Microbe. 2016;19(6):865-873.
  • Underhill DM, Pearlman E. Immune Interactions with Pathogenic and Commensal Fungi: A Two-Way Street. Immunity. 2015;43(5):845-858.
  • Muller S, Wolf AJ, Iliev I, Berg GL, Underhill DM*, Liu GY*. Poorly cross-linked peptidoglycan in MRSA due to mecA induction activates the inflammasome and exacerbates immunopathology. Cell Host Microbe. 2015;18(5):604-612.
  • ID Iliev, VA Funari, KD Taylor, Q Nguyen, CN Reyes, SP Strom, J Brown, CA Becker, PR Fleshner, M Dubinsky, JI Rotter, HL Wang, DPB McGovern, GD Brown, DM Underhill. Interactions between commensal fungi and the C-type lectin receptor Dectin-1 influence colitis. Science. 2012;336(6086):1314-1317.
  • Goodridge HS, Reyes CN, Becker CA, Katsumoto TR, Ma J, Wolf AJ, Bose N, Chan AS, Magee AS, Danielson ME, Weiss A, Vasilakos JP, Underhill DM. Activation of the innate immune receptor Dectin-1 upon formation of a 'phagocytic synapse'. Nature. 2011 Apr 28;472(7344):471-475.

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