Darrell J. 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

Bio; Biotechnology; Nanotechnology; Polymers

Darrell J. Irvine


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.

Recent News

Deshpande Center and J-WAFS announce fall 2017 research grants

The MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation announced today the award of $768,000 in grants to 17 MIT research teams currently working on early-stage technologies. DMSE-related projects include: "Structured Nucleic Acid Nanoparticle Therapeutic Delivery Platform" — Mark Bathe,…  

Converging on cancer at the nanoscale

This summer, the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT marks the first anniversary of the launch of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine. The Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine focuses on grand challenges in cancer detection, treatment, and monitoring that can…  

Fighting cancer with the power of immunity

Professor Darrell Irvine was a senior author alongside Dane Wittrup for a study published to the online edition of Nature Medicine on Oct. 24.  "Harnessing the body’s own immune system to destroy tumors is a tantalizing prospect that has yet to realize its full potential. However…  

Materializing the Future of Vaccines and Immunotherapy

The industries of immunotherapy and vaccination are on the brink of major breakthroughs, and many developments in the field are heavily focused on materials science. Safely modulating the immune system in patients with cancer is one of the biggest challenges at present, but developments in…