The Sun Lab

The immune system responds to viral infections by introducing a complex interplay of immune cells and factors, whose goal is to eliminate the intruding pathogen. One such effector cell in the antiviral response is the Natural Killer (NK) cell, which secretes inflammatory cytokines and directly kills infected cells. The focus of our research is aimed at defining the signals that NK cells require to mount an effective immune response against pathogens. We are also exploring the regulatory mechanisms keeping NK cells in check, thereby safeguarding against potential autoimmunity.

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Pictured: Joseph Sun

Joseph Sun, PhD

Associate Professor

Research Focus

Immunologist Joseph Sun investigates the natural killer cell response against infection and cancer.


PhD, University of Washington


  • Karo JM, Schatz DG, Sun JC.  2014.  The RAG recombinase dictates functional heterogeneity and cellular fitness in natural killer cells.  Cell.  159:94-107.
  • Geiger TL, Abt MC, Gasteiger G, Firth MA, O’Connor MH, Geary C, O’Sullivan T, van den Brink MR, Pamer EG, Hanash AM, Sun JC.  2014.  Nfil3 is crucial for development of innate lymphoid cells and host protection against intestinal pathogens.  J Exp Med. 211:1723-1731.
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Selected Achievements

  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in Infectious Disease (2016)
  • Boyer Young Investigator Award for Basic Research (2015)
  • Geoffrey Beene Junior Faculty Chair (2014)
  • AAI Pfizer-Showell Early Career Investigator Award (2012)
  • Searle Scholar Award (2011)
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  • Cancer Research Institute Investigator Award (2011)