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Joseph Sun, PhD

Professor in the Immunology Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center


Joseph C. Sun is a member and professor in the Immunology Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. His research is focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind immunological memory. Recruited to New York in 2010 by Dr. James Allison, his lab is interested in defining the underlying epigenetic and transcriptional signals that govern T cell and natural killer (NK) cell proliferation, function, and memory cell formation during host defense against pathogens. He has a background in immunology, having trained with Dr. Mike Bevan in CD8+ T cell memory as a graduate student at the University of Washington. As a postdoc with Dr. Lewis Lanier at UCSF, he discovered that certain NK cell subsets possess adaptive immune features including clonal expansion and long-lived memory following viral infection. By gaining a better understanding of how these innate and adaptive arms of the immune system specifically attack virally-infected cells, and ‘remember’ these pathogens, more effective preventative and therapeutic approaches can be developed in the battle against infectious diseases.

Dr. Sun is currently a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in Infectious Disease and a Research Scholar of the American Cancer Society. Among his awards and honors are the Searle Scholar Award (2011), the Cancer Research Institute Investigator Award (2011), the AAI Pfizer-Showell Early Career Investigator Award (2012), the Geoffrey Beene Junior Faculty Chair (2014), and the Boyer Young Investigator Award for Basic Research (2015).

Education & Training

  • 1997: BA, Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • 2005: PhD, Immunology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA  (Mentor: Dr. Michael J. Bevan)
  • 2006-2010: Post-doctoral Fellow, Microbiology and Immunology, UCSF, San Francisco, CA  (Mentor: Dr. Lewis L. Lanier)

Awards & Honors

  • 2017: American Cancer Society Research Scholar
  • 2016: Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator (Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease program)
  • 2015: Louise and Allston Boyer Young Investigator Award for Basic Research
  • 2014: Geoffrey Beene Junior Faculty Chair
  • 2012: AAI Pfizer-Showell Early Career Investigator Award
  • 2011: Searle Scholar
  • 2011: CRI Investigator Award
  • 2009: UCSF Dean’s Postdoctoral Prize and Lectureship
  • 2009: AAI-Invitrogen Trainee Achievement Award
  • 2007: Fellow of the Irvington Institute for Immunological Research
  • 2006: Hooper/Bishop Post-doctoral Training Grant (UCSF)
  • 2002: National Cancer Institute Pre-doctoral Training Award
  • 1994: Academic Scholarship Award, University of California at Berkeley