- Assistant Professor, Ben May Department for Cancer Research, Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition, Committee on Cancer Biology
PhD., Queen's University, Ontario, Canada
The University of Chicago
929 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 834-6456
Dissecting mechanisms by which macrophages contribute to disease using systems, immunological, and functional approaches
Macrophages are the “big eaters” of the immune system. These cells, which mediate clearance of apoptotic cells and pathogens, are present in every tissue of the body. Upon tissue damage or infection, monocytes emigrate from blood vessels into tissue, where they differentiate into a variety of specialized macrophage populations that are remarkably plastic. Through their ability to clear pathogens and instruct other immune cells, macrophages play a central role in maintaining tissue homeostasis but can also contribute to the pathogenesis of inflammatory and degenerative diseases.
Becker’s laboratory uses a multi-disciplinary approach that combines high-throughput methodologies (proteomics and microarrays), computational and bioinformatics analyses, with immunological and functional measurements of macrophages. By linking complex protein/gene expression patterns to pathophysiology at the cellular, tissue, and organism levels, we are currently applying our integrative approach to study the roles of macrophages in a wide range of diseases including diabetes/obesity, cancer, atherosclerosis, and cystic fibrosis. In this regard, studies to date have i) identified coherent macrophage-derived protein networks with disease-causing properties, ii) interrogated the plasticity of macrophages in vivo, and iii) identified proteins (or protein modules) that mediate specific biological activities.