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Irah King

photo of Dr. Irah King: research focus is on how immune cells communicate with their local environment to promote protective immune responses relevant to human disease., with a focus on immunity at barrier sites such as the gut, skin and lung

Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Medicine, McGill University
Canada Research Chair in Barrier Immunity
Director, McGill Centre for Microbiome Research

Research Interests

The focus of our research is to understand how immune cells communicate with their local environment to promote protective immune responses relevant to human disease. We are particularly interested in immunity at barrier sites such as the gut, skin and lung as these tissues face the complex task of maintaining homeostasis while directly interacting with the outside world.

Ongoing studies include:

  1. The molecular mechanisms of CD4+ T cell differentiation following intestinal helminth infection.
  2. The gut-lung axis in the context of infectious disease
  3. Innate immune mechanisms of disease tolerance during intestinal helminth infection.
  4. Regulation of skin-resident IL-17-producing T cells in the context of psoriatic-like inflammation.
  5. The impact of the microbiome on infection and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Check out this link to find out why parasites may be critical for human evolution!

This link describes how helminths can affect human fertility.

Featured Publications

Helminth-induced reprogramming of the stem cell compartment inhibits type 2 immunity

Karo-Atar D, Ouladan S, Javkar T, Joumier L, Matheson MK, Merritt S, Westfall S, Rochette A, Gentile ME, Fontes G, Fonseca GJ, Parisien M, Diatchenko L, von Moltke J, Malleshaiah M, Gregorieff A, King IL. J Exp Med. 2022 Sep 5;219(9):e20212311.

Prostaglandin E2 amplifies IL-17 production by γδ T cells during barrier inflammation

Polese B, Thurairajah B, Zhang H, Soo CL, McMahon CA, Fontes G, Hussain SNA, Abadie V, King IL. Cell Rep. 2021 Jul 27;36(4):109456.

Training the metaorganism: the microbial counterpart

King IL, Divangahi M. Cell. 2021 Jan;184(3):574-576.

NK cell recruitment limits tissue damage during an enteric helminth infection

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, King IL. Mucosal Immunol. 2020 Mar;13(2):357-370.

CD109 Restrains Activation of Cutaneous IL-17-Producing γδ T Cells by Commensal Microbiota

Zhang H, Carnevale G, Polese B, Simard M, Thurairajah B, Khan N, Gentile ME, Fontes G, Vinh DC, Pouliot R and King IL. Cell Reports. 2019 Oct 8;29(2):391-405.

Intestinal dysbiosis compromises alveolar macrophage immunity to Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Khan N, Mendonca L, Dhariwal A, Fontes G, Menzies D, Xia J, Divangahi M, King IL. Mucosal Immunol. 2019 May;12(3):772-783.

T follicular helper cell-derived IL-4 is required for IgE production during intestinal helminth infection

Meli AP, Fontes G, Leung Soo C, King IL. J Immunol. 2017 Jul 1;199(1):244-252.

The integrin LFA-1 Controls T follicular Helper Cell Generation and Maintenance

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. Immunity. 2016 Oct 18;45(4):831-846.

Irah King in the News

Spring 2023 Student Awards

Congratulations to the 2023 recipients of FRQS and CIHR studentship and fellowship awards! We wish you much success!

Infection and Immunity Week Awards

Congratulations to Bavanitha Thurairajah and Lisa Hennemann! They received prizes for best oral talks during Infection and Immunity Week .

Contact Information

Meakins-Christie Laboratories
RI-MUHC, Block E
Office EM2.2232
Lab E02.4126
1001 Decarie Blvd.
Montreal QC H4A 3J1

Tel: 514-934-1934 Ext. 35260 (lab)
Tel: 514-934-1934 Ext. 76185 (office)
Tel: 514-934-1934 Ext. 76172 (admin)
Fax: 514-933-3962
E-Mail: irah.king [at]

Education & Training

BA (Psychology), Ohio University, 2000
MSc (Physical Therapy), U Pittsburgh, 2002
PhD (Immunology), U Rochester, 2008
PDF Trudeau Institute, 2012