Photo of Thorsten Mempel, MD, PhD

Thorsten R. Mempel, MD, PhD

The Mempel Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital investigates cell migration and intercellular communction in the adaptive immune system through direct dynamic in vivo visualization of immune cell behavior using multiphoton intravital microscopy in mice.


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

Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Robert and Laura Reynolds MGH Research Scholar

Associate Member, MGH Center for Systems Biology

Associate Investigator, MGH Center for the Study of Inflammatory Bowel Disease


T lymphocytes are part of the adaptive immune system. They are powerful players in the defense against infection and can be effective against tumors, but they are also involved in autoimmune responses, leading to diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, or multiple sclerosis.

T cell responses arise from clonal expansion of a small number of naïve precursors through antigenic priming by dendritic cells in secondary lymphoid organs, such as lymph nodes and the spleen. Once these naïve T cells have differentiated to effector T cells, they migrate to the blood, from where they are recruited to peripheral tissues to combat disease.

To prevent attacks on healthy tissues, the execution of T cell effector functions is tightly linked to the recognition of cognate antigen. In addition, immune responses are regulated through diverse inhibitory and stimulatory signals that T cells encounter in peripheral tissues. Dr. Mempel's lab is seeking to understand how the function of T cells is regulated through their interaction with other cells, structural tissue components and soluble mediators that they encounter in tissues. Their main approach to this end is direct dynamic in vivo visualization of immune processes at cellular and subcellular resolution in living mice, using multiphoton intravital microscopy.

Group Members

Principal Investigator:

  • Thorsten Mempel, MD, PhD

Junior Faculty:

  • Francesco Marangoni, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Mauro Di Pilato, PhD

  • Jasper Pruessman, MD

  • Shariq Usmani, PhD

Graduate Student:

  • Vini Mani


  • Ross Warner

Research Projects

  • Mechanisms of cytotoxic T cell-mediated tumor rejection
  • Local regulation of T effector cell function by T regulatory cells
  • Interplay of T regulatory cells and tumor-associated myeloid cells
  • Early events of viral spread in a humanized mouse model of HIV infection


Collaborative projects:

  • Role of IP-10 chemokine in T cell migration (with Luster Lab)
  • Function of microglia in Alzheimer’s disease (with El Khoury Lab)
  • Self-renewal of cancer stem cells (with Langenau Lab)




Contact Us

Mempel Laboratory

CNY 149-6

149 13th Street Charlestown, MA 02129
  • Near Public Transit
  • Accessible
  • Phone: 617-724-4596
  • Fax: 617-726-5651
  • Email Us

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