Michael Birnbaum, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biological Engineering, MIT

Michael Birnbaum is assistant professor in the Department of Biological Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he is also intramural faculty of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and associate member of the Ragon Institute.

Michael’s research focuses on understanding and manipulating adaptive immune responses in the context of cancer and infection by using a variety of strategies including protein biochemistry, protein engineering, sequencing and bioinformatics. His lab systematically examines the antigen recognition repertoire of any given T or NK cell receptor and uses this information to engineer new methods to specifically mount potent immune responses against cancer or infectious diseases.

Michael joined MIT and the Koch Institute in 2016. During his tenure at the Koch Institute, he received the AACR-TESARO Career Development Award for Immuno-Oncology Research, a Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, a Pew-Stewart Scholarship for Cancer Research, a V Scholar Grant from the Jimmy V Foundation and the Michelson Prize for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research. In October 2020, he received the National Institutes of Health (NIH) New Innovators Award. Michael is also a co-founder and advisor for Viralogic Therapeutics.

Michael holds an A.B. in chemical and physical biology from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in immunology from Stanford University. At Stanford, he worked in Professor K. Christopher Garcia’s laboratory, studying the molecular mechanisms of T cell receptor recognition, cross-reactivity and activation. He then conducted postdoctoral research in Professor Carla Shatz’s laboratory, studying novel roles for immune receptors expressed by neurons in neural development and neurodegenerative disease.

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