Darrell Irvine

Professor of Materials Science and Engineering & Biological Engineering
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
B.S. Engineering Physics, University of Pittsburgh, 1995
Ph.D. Polymer Science and Technology, MIT, 2000


(617) 452-4174


(617) 452-3293


  • Biotechnology
  • Nanotechnology
  • Polymers


The Irvine laboratory works at the interface of materials science and immunology. Synthetic materials can be applied in two major ways to 'immunobioengineering': (1) Synthetic materials can modulate the function of immune cells by mimicking signals derived from the immune system or foreign pathogens, both as a probe for cell function and as a tool for immunotherapy— both in vitro and in vivo; (2) Synthetic materials can be used to create in vitro and in vivo models of the microenvironment present in lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues, to better understand immunobiology in health and disease. To meet these goals, engineering must be married to an in-depth appreciation for the biology of these problems. Their laboratory is thus deeply interdisciplinary in every project. Key to their approach is a balanced emphasis on both the engineering and immunological aspects of the problems the Irvine group has chosen to address: In each of these projects, state of the art chemistry, polymer science, physics and immunology are combined to address critical biological questions and medical challenges.

Robert H. Richards, the first department head, appears in The Technologists, a 2012 novel by Matthew Pearl.