Our lab specializes in analysis of the extremely polymorphic human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) immunogenetic systems. In addition to their critical role in transplantation, over 100 infectious, autoimmune and pharmacological disease phenotypes and cancers are associated with genetic variation of HLA and KIR, which also have functional interaction with one another.

Our work spans the population genetics, evolutionary history, and influence on human health of these complex genomic regions, with particular emphasis on their role in neurological disease. We are also engaged in the development of community standards and software tools for these highly variable immunogenetic data.


The major genetic contribution of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region to disease risk has been recognized for nearly fifty years, with hundreds of associations observed in autoimmunity, infectious disease, cancer, and major drug-hypersensitivities. Because of its pivotal role in the immune response to pathogens, we expect that HLA variation will also be found to play a role in SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or COVID-19 outcomes.

In collaboration with the National Marrow Donor Program and the UCSF COVID-19 Citizen Science initiative we are launching a study to collect data on COVID-19 in up to 3.5 million volunteer bone marrow donors with pre-existing HLA genotyping data to learn more about the role of HLA variation in this disease.

Additionally, in collaboration with a global consortium of leaders in the immnunogenetics community, we are developing a web platform that will serve as a data aggregation site, knowledge base and technical resource for HLA and immunogenetics research on the COVID-19 pandemic, intended to pool resources and increase power to accelerate discovery