Thorsten R. Mempel, MD, PhD
Photo: Thorsten Mempel



Elected 2015

Dr. Thorsten Mempel is a Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and directs a basic research laboratory in the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He obtained his M.D. from the University of Munich, where he began a residency in pediatric surgery before starting research training in Immunology in the Center for Blood Research at Harvard Medical School in 2002. He was recruited to MGH in 2007 and promoted to Associate Professor in 2013. Dr. Mempel has been a pioneer and leader in the field of immuno-imaging and has used multiphoton intravital microscopy in lymphoid and non-lymphoid tissues to study T cell trafficking and activation in vivo. His work along with that of others has revealed highly dynamic and complex patterns of cell motility and cell-cell interactions, and created an understanding of how a combination of stochastic elements and multi-layered structural and chemotactic guidance mechanisms orchestrates effective immune cell communication for the induction and regulation of adaptive immune responses. Most recently, dynamic visualization of molecular signal transduction events in individual immune cells in vivo in the context of the anti-tumor immune response has allowed Dr. Mempel’s laboratory to provide the first insights into how the gene programs that underlie T cell activation and differentiation are controlled by the stability and duration of their interactions with antigen presenting cells. Dr. Mempel has also applied imaging approaches to investigate how pathogens can exploit physiological immune cell behavior to their benefit. Specifically, he pioneered the use of intravital microscopy in humanized mice to interrogate the ways the human immunodeficiency virus spreads in the body of infected individuals and found that the virus exploits the migratory activity of infected T cells by using them as vehicles to spread the infection locally and systemically. Beyond his research activity, Dr. Mempel is involved in the immunology teaching programs at Harvard Medical School and from 2012 to 2016 served as the President and co-chair of the New England Immunology Conference.