null 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 and Health Sciences, 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.

Research initiative
McGill Centre for Microbiome Research

Selected Publications

Click on Pubmed to see my current publications list

  • Gentile ME, Li Y, Robertson A, Shah K, Fontes G, Kaufmann E, Polese B, Khan N, Parisien M, Munter HM, Mandl JN, Diatchenko L, Divangahi M and King IL. NK cells limit tissue injury during an enteric helminth infection. Mucosal Immunology. 2019 Nov 27. doi: 10.1038/s41385-019-0231-8. PMID: 31776431.

  • Zhang H, Carnevale G, Polese B, Simard M, Thurairajah B, Khan N, Gentile ME, Fontes G, Vinh DC, Pouliot R and King IL. CD109 restrains activation of cutaneou-17 producing γδ T cells by commensal microbiota. Cell Reports. 2019 Oct 8;29(2):391-405 doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.09.003. PMID: 31597099.

  • Khan N, Mendonca L, Dhariwal A, Fontes G, Dunn J, Menzies D, Xia J, Divangahi M, King IL. Intestinal dysbiosis compromises alveolar macrophage immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Mucosal Immunology. 2019 May; 12(3): 772-783. doi: 10.1038/s41385-019-0147-3. PMID: 30783183.

  • Meli AP, Fontes G, Leung Soo C, King IL. T follicular helper cell-derived IL-4 is required for IgE production during intestinal helminth infection. Journal of Immunology 2017 Jul 1;199(1):244-252. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1700141. PMID: 28533444.

  • 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.