Lewis Lanier, PhD

Lewis Lanier, PhD

Professor and the Microbiology and Immunology Chair

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)


Lewis Lanier is a professor and the Microbiology and Immunology Chair at UCSF. Lanier has studied natural killer (NK) cells in humans and mice since 1981. His lab has identified many of the activating and inhibitory NK receptors, their ligands, and signaling pathways and defined their role in innate and adaptive immune responses to pathogens and cancer. Natural killer (NK) cells are a type of white blood cell that provides protection against microbial pathogens and tumors. NK cells express a diverse array of inhibitory and activating receptors on their cells surface that bind to ligands expressed on the cell surface of potential target cells. When encountering healthy cells, signals transmitted by inhibitory NK receptors dominate and prevent autoimmunity, whereas the loss of ligands for the inhibitory receptors or the upregulation of ligands for the activating NK receptors on infected or transformed cells allows NK cells to kill these abnormal cells and secrete cytokine that influence the subsequent response by T cells and B cells.