Ethan Shevach, M.D.

Cellular Immunology Section

Ethan Shevach, M.D.

Chief, Cellular Immunology Section

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Ethan Shevach, M.D.

Major Areas of Research

  • We are studying the role of NK, Antigen Presenting Cells (APC) and Tregs in the immune system homeostasis in the steady-state and disease, especially the role of Ly49s or LILRBs/MHC-I and TCR/MHC-II interactions in viral and tumor immunity.
  • We are investigating mechanisms of Treg mediated suppression. Especially a Treg mediated process similar to trogocytosis to remove peptide MHC-II complexes from dendritic cells (DC) rendering the DC incompetent to present the targeted pMHC-II complex.
  • We are interested in elucidating the function of two members of the Ikaros gene transcription factor (TF) family, Helios and Eos. Both of these TFs are preferentially expressed in Treg and play roles in controlling certain aspects of Treg suppressor functions.
  • We are studying the role of type I interferons (IFNs) in Treg function. We had previously demonstrated that type I IFNs play a role in Treg development and survival.
  • We are working on bringing some of our discoveries from the bench to the clinic by studying hTregs biology by using immunodeficient mice engrafted with human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in collaborations with industry.

Program Description

The major focus of the Cellular Immunology Section over the past 25 years has been furthering our understanding of the function of T regulatory cells (Tregs) that express the transcription factor Foxp3. Our group was one of the first in the world to realize the importance of Treg and we performed many of the initial studies that described their phenotype and function. The study of Tregs is now one of the most active areas of research in basic and clinical immunology and the therapeutic use of Treg is now in the clinic. It was originally assumed that Treg were a dedicated lineage of cells that developed only from thymic precursors, but more recent studies have clearly documented that Foxp3+ T cells also develop from conventional T cells (Tconv) in extra-thymic peripheral sites in vivo, and these are termed peripherally induced Tregs (pTregs). Treg can also be generated in culture in the presence of transforming growth factor-b1 (TGF-b1) and are termed induced Tregs (iTreg). The relative importance of tTreg and pTreg is unknown.

Although most of our studies deal with Tregs in mouse models, over the past 15 years we have also carried out studies on human Tregs (hTregs) derived from normal donors. Our ongoing studies are described below and have been divided up into five major projects with significant overlap between the projects. We also intentionally validate new and novel findings that we learn in one species with similar studies in another species, as there appears to be conservation of many aspects of Treg function across the species.

Cell Immunology Fig Image

Two fundamentally different suppressor modes characterize Treg suppressor mechanisms. In the “active” mode, Treg cells secrete immunoinhibitory molecules that exert their effects on other cell types. In contrast, in the “counteractive” mode Treg cells are actively engaged in removing vital components from other cells types including antigen, costimulatory molecules, cytokines, and inflammatory signals thereby decreasing the activation of T effector cells. B. Akkaya and E.M. Shevach, Cellular immunology 2020.

Credit: NIAID



M.D., 1967, Boston University

Dr. Shevach received his M.D. from Boston University in 1967. Following clinical training, he joined the Laboratory of Immunology as a senior staff fellow in 1972, was appointed a senior investigator in 1973, and became a section chief in 1987. Dr. Shevach served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Immunology from 1987 to 1992 and editor-in-chief of Cellular Immunology from 1996 to 2007. Dr. Shevach is the author of more than 450 papers.


Distinguished Service Award (The American Association of Immunologists)
Distinguished Alumnus Award (Boston University School of Medicine)
2004 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology
Distinguished Scientist Award, World Allergy Congress, 2015
Thompson-Reuters Citation Laureate, 2015
Distinguished Fellow, American Association of Immunologists, 2019


The American Association of Immunologists
American Society for Clinical Investigation
Association of American Physicians

Editorial Boards

The Journal of Immunological Methods
Journal of Biomedical Science
Journal of Experimental Medicine
Current Protocols in Immunology
Human Immunology

Selected Publications

Tanwar S, Oguz C, Metidji A, Dahlstrom E, Barbian K, Kanakabandi K, Sykora L, Shevach EM. Type I IFN signaling in T regulatory cells modulates chemokine production and myeloid derived suppressor cells trafficking during EAE. J Autoimmun. 2020 Jul 21;102525. Epub ahead of print.

Panda AK, Gangaplara A, Buszko M, Natarajan K, Boyd LF, Sharma S, Margulies DH, Shevach EM. Cutting Edge: Inhibition of the Interaction of NK Inhibitory Receptors with MHC Class I Augments Antiviral and Antitumor Immunity. J Immunol. 2020 Aug 1;205(3):567-572.

Lopez-Ocasio M, Buszko M, Blain M, Wang K, Shevach EM. T Follicular Regulatory Cell Suppression of T Follicular Helper Cell Function Is Context-Dependent in vitro. Front Immunol. 2020 Apr 17;11:637.

Gokhale AS, Gangaplara A, Lopez-Occasio M, Thornton AM, Shevach EM. Selective deletion of Eos (Ikzf4) in T-regulatory cells leads to loss of suppressive function and development of systemic autoimmunity. J Autoimmun. 2019 Dec;105:102300.

Skadow M, Penna VR, Galant-Swafford J, Shevach EM, Thornton AM. Helios Deficiency Predisposes the Differentiation of CD4+Foxp3- T Cells into Peripherally Derived Regulatory T Cells. J Immunol. 2019 Jul 15;203(2):370-378.

Akkaya B, Oya Y, Akkaya M, Al Souz J, Holstein AH, Kamenyeva O, Kabat J, Matsumura R, Dorward DW, Glass DD, Shevach EM. Regulatory T cells mediate specific suppression by depleting peptide-MHC class II from dendritic cells. Nat Immunol. 2019 Feb;20(2):218-231.

Visit PubMed for a complete publication list

Research Group

Ethan Shevach, M.D., Resarch Group Image

Top row, left to right: Suveena Sharma, Maja Buszko, Angela Thornton, Neil Yang, Nizam Mansoori, Abir Panda

Bottom row, left to right: Xuan Xie, Sruthi Chempati, Madalyn Jones, Sandrine Bonkoungou (alumnus), Daniel Williams (alumnus), Ethan Shevach, Ke Weng (alumnus)

On the top: Pat Korty, Melissa Blain

On the bottom: Yong-Hee Kim

Credit: NIAID

Ethan M Shevach, M.D., Principal Investigator

Angela Thornton, Ph.D., Staff Scientist

Pat Korty, Microbiologist

Suveena Sharma, Ph.D., Biologist

Melissa Blain, Biologist

Melissa Blain is a Research Biologist in the Shevach laboratory since 2008. She has a M.S in Medical Biology with a concentration in Hematology and Immunology, and a B.S in Biochemical Pharmacology.

Maja Buszko, Ph.D., Visiting Postdoctoral fellow

Maja received her Ph.D. in Medical Science in 2016 from the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria. Her work is focused on targeting hTregs for the enhancement of anti-tumor immunity. In 2019/2020 Maja has been a part of the NIH/FDA Immunology Interest Group Steering Committee. She received the 2021 and 2022 NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence.

Sruthi Chempati, Biologist

Sruthi Chempati is a Research Biologist in the Shevach laboratory. She received a M.S in Biological Sciences and a B.S in Biotechnology. Prior to joining Shevach lab, she worked in an immunology lab focused on generation of EGFRvIII CAR T cells and in R&D lab focused on murine tumor model studies with Flow Cytometry technical competency.

Madalyn Jones, B.S., Post-baccalaureate Fellow

Madalyn is currently working to definitively identify Foxp3 and Helios as bona fide markers of regulatory T cells in vivo. She received a B.S. in Biomedical Science from Troy University. Madalyn plans to continue research as a physician scientist in transplant immunology.

Yong-Hee Kim, M.D. Ph.D., Visiting Postdoctoral fellow

Yong-Hee received his PhD in immunology in 2013 from Seoul National University College of Medicine, South Korea where he worked in Chung-Gyu Park’s lab. Currently he is studying pTreg induction and transplantation tolerance.

Abir Panda, Ph.D., Visiting Postdoctoral fellow

Abir received his Ph.D. in Biotechnology in 2016 from Bose Institute, Kolkata, India. He is currently studying the critical roles of NK, Antigen Presenting Cells (APC), and Tregs in maintaining immune homeostasis in the steady-state and augmentation of anti-viral (acute and chronic) and anti-tumor immunity, including lung and liver metastasis in naïve and humanized mouse model.

Mohammad Nizam Mansoori, Ph.D., Visiting Postdoctoral fellow 

Nizam has received his PhD in the area of osteoimmunology from Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR-CDRI), India in 2017. He joined NIH as a Visiting Scientist in 2017. Currently, he is studying the mechanism of antigen specific CD8 T cell regulation by iTregs both in vitro and in vivo. In 2020, he got AAI Trainee abstract award.

Neil Yang, B.S., Post-baccalaureate Fellow

Neil received a B.S. in biology from Case Western Reserve University in 2021. His current work involves the study of the transcription factor Helios in conventional T cells.

Xuan Xie, Ph.D., Visiting Postdoctoral fellow

Xuan received her Ph.D in Biological Sciences in 2018 from Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, where she studied the functions of 2 deubiquitinases (USP5 and USP13) during the assembly and disassembly of stress granules in the Lab of Prof. Masayuki Komada. She is currently working on novel approaches for the development of human Treg modulating mAbs for the treatment of cancer or autoimmune diseases.

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