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angle-left Irah King, PhD

Scientist, RI-MUHC , Glen site

Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program

Centre for Translational Biology

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University



Infectious disease • barrier tissue immunity • gut-lung axis • leukocyte migration • microbiome

Research Focus

My research focuses on understanding how immune cells communicate with their local environment to promote protective responses relevant to human disease. I am particularly interested in barrier tissues such as the intestine, lung and skin, which contain a complex network of immune cells patrolling just beneath the surface to protect us from environmental insults and pathogen invasion. The importance of the immune system at these sites is underscored by individuals with immunodeficiencies who suffer from recurrent life-threatening mucocutaneous infections and inflammatory disorders. When the host defense system is not tightly regulated, unchecked responses lead to chronic inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, fibrosis and psoriasis. My research team also investigates how commensal microbes that reside on or in us, referred to as our microbiota, shape immunity to infection and impact inflammation. Collectively, our work aims to identify tissue-specific mechanisms of immune defense that will inform clinical approaches to maximize health and minimize disease.

Selected Publications

Click on Pubmed to see my current publications list

  • Meli AP, Fontés G, Leung Soo C, King IL. T Follicular Helper Cell-Derived IL-4 Is Required for IgE Production during Intestinal Helminth Infection. J Immunol. 2017 Jul 1;199(1):244-252. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1700141. Epub 2017 May 22. PMID: PMID: 28533444.

  • King IL, Mohrs K, Meli AP, Downey J, Lanthier P, Tzelepis F, Fritz JH, Tumanov AV, Divangahi M, Leadbetter EA, Mohrs M. Intestinal helminth infection impacts the systemic distribution and function of the naive lymphocyte pool. Mucosal Immunol. 2017 Sep;10(5):1160-1168. doi: 10.1038/mi.2016.127. Epub 2017 Jan 25. PMID: 28120841.

  • Meli AP, Fontés G, Avery DT, Leddon SA, Tam M, Elliot M, Ballesteros-Tato A, Miller J, Stevenson MM, Fowell DJ, Tangye SG, King IL. The Integrin LFA-1 Controls T Follicular Helper Cell Generation and Maintenance. Immunity. 2016 Oct 18;45(4):831-846. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2016.09.018. PMID: 27760339.

  • King IL, Fortier A, Tighe M, Dibble J, Watts GF, Veerapen N, Haberman AM, Besra GS, Mohrs M, Brenner MB, Leadbetter EA. Invariant natural killer T cells direct B cell responses to cognate lipid antigen in an IL-21-dependent manner. Nat Immunol. 2011 Nov 27;13(1):44-50. doi: 10.1038/ni.2172. PMID: 22120118.

  • Divangahi M, King IL, Pernet E. Trends Immunol. Alveolar macrophages and type I IFN in airway homeostasis and immunity. 2015 May;36(5):307-14. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Apr 3. PMID: 25843635.