Research Centers


Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD

The Shreffler Laboratory is interested in the mechanisms regulating both primary sensitization and the subsequent balance between immune progression or regulation that determines either clinical sensitivity or tolerance to mucosal allergens.

Principal Investigator, Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital

Assistant Pediatrician, MassGeneral Hospital for Children

Associate Immunologist, Massachusetts General Hospital

Director, Food Allergy Center, Massachusetts General Hospital

Chief, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, MassGeneral Hospital for Children

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School


Mechanisms of Immune Reactivity or Tolerance to Allergens in Humans
Our research program involves a combination of approaches, primarily with human samples and often in conjunction with clinical interventional or observational studies, to interrogate both the innate and adaptive immune responses to major dietary and aeroallergens.

Working together with leading clinical investigators around the world as part of the Consortium for Food Allergy Research and the Inner City Asthma Consortium and the newly established Food Allergy Research Center at MGH, we are adapting the use of polychromatic flow cytometry and peptide microarray-based humoral immune profiling and systems biology approaches to uniquely characterize the phenotype and function of allergen-specific T and B cell responses and the regulations of effector cells in pediatric food allergy and asthma.

Equally important is our effort to understand the mechanisms that influence early immune fate decisions to allergens and the intrinsic properties of those allergens that facilitate an allergic response and we are studying this in human and murine model systems.

Principal Investigator:

  • Wayne G. Shreffler, MD, PhD

Junior Faculty:

  • Sarita Patil, MD
  • Bert Ruiter, PhD
  • Yamini Virkud, MD, MPH

Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Navneet Virk Hundal, MD
  • Tori Martin, MD


  • Neal Smith
  • Johanna Steinbrecher
  • Cecilia Washburn

Clinical Research Coordinators:

  • Christine Elliot
  • Allie Hickey
  • Caroline Southwick
  • Lauren Tracy


Clinical Reactivity or Tolerance to Mouse Allergen

There is poor understanding of how natural allergen exposure relates to the ensuing allergen-specific immune responses, and how atopic disposition modifies allergen exposure-immune response relationships. In collaboration with Drs. Elizabeth Matsui at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Beverly Paigen at the Jackson Laboratory, we are using an occupational model of allergen exposure to test the hypothesis that high levels of natural exposure to mouse allergen induces regulatory responses to the major mouse allergen, Mus m 1, and ultimately protects against clinical allergy.

Mechanisms of Peanut Adjuvanticity

Allergy to peanut (Arachis hypogaea) tends to be persistent and severe, and it represents an increasingly prevalent public health problem, affecting more than three million Americans. We are unraveling the mechanisms by which peanut seed constituents directly activate innate immune cells to promote a strong and persistent allergic response in susceptible individuals.

Basophil Activation and Regulation

Effective allergen-specific immunotherapy is known to induce several immunological changes that correlate well with clinical efficacy, including increased levels of allergen-specific IgG and decreased effector cell (e.g., basophil, mast cell) responsiveness. These changes precede any decrease in specific IgE and this correlation has led to the hypothesis that they are key targets of immune regulation leading to tolerance. Basophils are ideal for the study of immunotherapy mechanisms because they are predominantly present in the peripheral blood, can be readily stimulated ex vivo, share expression of both receptor and signaling pathway molecules with mast cells, and can be measured by flow cytometry with minimal manipulation. We study the mechanisms of basophil anergy (induced hyporesponsiveness) and whether such anergy contributes to clinical improvement in human subjects receiving immunotherapy for peanut allergy.

Clonal Diversity of B cell Response to Allergens

Individuals with immediate hypersensitivity have a pathological immune response to ubiquitous antigens characterized by the failure of immune tolerance and the production of specific IgE. There is a spectrum of immunity to proteins encountered at mucosal sites ranging from non-sensitized, to sensitized, to transiently allergic, or persistently allergic individuals. The natural history of this immune response and how it varies between these groups is poorly understood. We hypothesize that increased allergen-specific antibody diversity, avidity, and IgE/ IgG4 ratio are markers of Th2 immune progression and will correlate with reaction severity and allergy persistence. We have developed a microarray-based immunoassay for the analysis of allergen-specific antibody diversity to test this hypothesis in food allergy and occupational asthma.

Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Scientist Positions

The Shreffler Laboratory seeks highly motivated individuals to work in the area of specific immunity to mucosal allergens. This is a unique opportunity for working in a fast-paced, and highly collaborative, translational research group working at the interface of mucosal immunology and clinical allergy.


MD and/or PhD in immunology, molecular biology, informatics, or related field required. Must possess familiarity with mammalian cell culture, flow cytometry and basic protein chemistry/molecular biology. Experience with animal model systems is a plus. Must possess excellent computer skills and ability to perform basic quantitative analysis of large data sets. Knowledge of R analysis would be preferred. More advanced statistics or programming skills a plus. Excellent critical thinking skills and attention to detail needed. Must be able to use sound judgment to effectively solve problems, work independently, and handle a variety of tasks. Requires effective oral and written communication skills along with meticulous laboratory technique and recording skills. Must be able to use discretion to organize workflow and to change methodologies to optimize work results and communicate effectively with all levels of staff to ensure that work supports team goals. Interested applicants should send curriculum vitae and names of three references via email or postal mail to:

Wayne Shreffler, MD, PhD

Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases

Massachusetts General Hospital

Bldg. 149 – 13th Street, 8312

Charlestown, MA 02129 USA



Undergraduate Students/Medical School Students

Students interested in a rotation or thesis project should contact Dr. Wayne Shreffler directly by e-mail ( with a copy of their curriculum vitae and a statement of their research interest. Limited fellowships are available. Regretfully, we do not have the resources to support all applicants who apply.


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Shreffler Laboratory

CNY 149-8
149 13th Street
Charlestown, MA 02129

Phone: 617-726-6147
Fax: 617-726-5651
Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm

Public Transportation Access: yes
Disabled Access: yes


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