The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MITThe David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

National Cancer Institute Cancer Center

Science + Engineering... Conquering Cancer Together

Darrell J. Irvine, PhD

Underwood-Prescott Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering

Associate Director, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Member, Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute



KI Research Areas of Focus:
Nano-based Drugs, Cancer Immunology

"Our laboratory works at the interface of biotechnology, materials science and immunology. We create new technologies aiming to boost the immune system’s ability to fight cancer, with the goal of creating more safer and more effective immunotherapies."

Learn more about the work going on in the Irvine lab, which focuses on development of drug delivery tools and new methods for analyzing cellular immune responses, by watching this video: "Inside the Lab: Darrell J. Irvine, Ph.D."

The Irvine lab's work is profiled as part of the current interactive exhibits in the Koch Institute Public Galleries.  Watch a web version of the story here.

Dr. Irvine obtained an Honors Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Pittsburgh. As a National Science Foundation graduate fellow he then studied Polymer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following completion of his PhD, he was a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell postdoctoral fellow in immunology at the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine. He is presently a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is also an Associate Director for the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and serves on the steering committee of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. Dr. Irvine is the founder of Elicio Therapeutics, Strand Therapeutics, and Ankyra Therapeutics. 

Further Information

Research Summary

Engineering approaches grounded in immunology hold the key to novel treatments for cancer, infectious disease, and autoimmunity. To this end, the overarching goal of the Irvine laboratory is to engineer immunity through a fusion of immunology with biotechnology and materials chemistry, employing an engineering-centric approach to create new therapies based on the controlled modulation of the immune system. These efforts are driven by the pursuit of a deep understanding of immunological mechanisms of action – using biology as the guide to our technology development. We have two primary research foci, developing technologies to enhance vaccine-elicited immunity and engineering cancer immunotherapies. A major theme over the past 5 years has been defining the impact of controlled timing and location of immune stimulation in vaccines and immunotherapies. For example: (i) We defined the importance of vaccine kinetics ­– the temporal pattern of antigen/adjuvant exposure to the immune system – in humoral immunity, and developed technologies to control these kinetics that enhance multiple facets of vaccine immunity. (ii) We discovered a powerful but simple technology for targeting immunotherapy agents to lymph nodes through “albumin hitchhiking.”

Selected Publications

Mandal A, Boopathy AV, Lam LKW, Moynihan KD, Welch ME, Bennett NR, Turvey ME, Thai N, Van JH, Love JC, Hammond PT, and Irvine DJ, “Cell- and Fluid-Sampling Microneedle Patches for Monitoring Tissue- Resident Immunity,” Sci Transl Med. 2018. 10(467) eaar2227 1-14.  doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aar2227

Moynihan KD, Holden RL, Mehta NK, Wang C, Karver MR, Dinter J, Liang S, Abraham W, Melo MB, Zhang AQ, Li N, Le Gall S, Pentelute BL, and Irvine DJ, “Enhancement of Peptide Vaccine Immunogenicity by Increasing Lymphatic Drainage and Boosting Serum Stability,” Cancer Immunol Res. 2018. 6(9):1025-1038. PMCID: PMC6247902. doi:10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-17-0607

Tang L, Zheng Y, Melo M, Mabardi L, Castaño AP, Xie Y-Q, Li N, Kudchodkar SB, Wong HC, Jeng EK, Maus MV, and Irvine DJ, “Enhancing T-cell therapy through TCR signaling-responsive nanoparticle drug delivery,” Nat Biotech. 2018. 36(8):707-716. PMCID: PMC6078803. doi:10.1038/nbt.4181

Zhang Y, Li N, Suh H, and Irvine DJ. Nanoparticle anchoring targets immune agonists to tumors enabling anti-cancer immunity without systemic toxicity. Nat Commun. 2018. 9(1):6. PMCID: PMC5750237. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-02251-3

Schmid D, Gwon Park C, Hartl CA, Subedi N, Cartwright AN, Bou Puerto R, Zheng Y, Maiarana J, Freeman GJ, Wucherpfennig KW, Irvine DJ, Goldberg MS. T cell-targeting nanoparticles focus delivery of immunotherapy to improve antitumor immunity. Nat. Commun. 2017. 8(1): 1–11. PMCID: PMC5700944. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01830-8

Tzeng A, Kauke MJ, Zhu EF, Moynihan KD, Opel CF, Yang NJ, Mehta N, Kelly RL, Szeto GL, Overwijk WW, Irvine DJ, Wittrup KD. Temporally Programmed CD8α+ DC Activation Enhances Combination Cancer Immunotherapy. Cell Rep. 2016. 17(10): 2503-2511. PMCID: PMC5204262. doi:10.1016/j.celrep.2016.11.020

Moynihan KD, Opel CF, Szeto GL, Tzeng A, Zhu EF, Engreitz JM, Williams RT, Rakhra K, Zhang MH, Rothschilds AM, Kumari S, Kelly RL, Kwan BH, Abraham W, Hu K, Mehta NK, Kauke MJ, Suh H, Cochran JR, Lauffenburger DA, Wittrup KD, Irvine DJ. Eradication of large established tumors in mice by combination immunotherapy that engages innate and adaptive immune responses. Nat. Med. 2016. PMCID: PMC5209798. doi:10.1038/nm.4200

Huang B, Abraham WD, Zheng Y, Bustamante López SC, Luo SS, Irvine DJ. Active targeting of chemotherapy to disseminated tumors using nanoparticle-carrying T cells. Sci. Transl. Med. 2015. 7, 291ra94. PMCID: PMC4687972. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa5447

Hanson MC, Crespo MP, Abraham W, Moynihan KD, Szeto GL, Chen SH, Melo MB, Mueller S, and Irvine DJ. Nanoparticulate STING agonists are potent lymph node-targeted vaccine adjuvants. J Clin Invest. 2015. 125(6):2532-46. PMCID: PMC4497758. doi:10.1172/JCI79915

Liu H, Moynihan K, Zheng Y, Szeto G, Li A, Huang B, Egeren D, Park C, Irvine D. Structure-based programming of lymph-node targeting in molecular vaccines. Nature. 2014. 507(7493): 519–522. PMCID: PMC4069155. doi:10.1038/nature12978


Search PubMed for Irvine lab publications

Contact Information

Darrell J. Irvine

room 76-261
phone (617) 452-4174
fax (617) 452-3293

The Irvine Lab


Administrative Assistant:

Valerie A Corapi
room 76-261
phone (617) 253-5819