Principal Investigator

  1. Isaac Chiu

    Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunobiology

    Ph.D. in Immunology - Harvard Medical School

    Isaac was born in San Diego and grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts. He worked in the lab of Dr. Jack Strominger as an undergraduate student at Harvard College, where he worked on the trafficking of MHC molecules in immune cells. He obtained his PhD in Immunology at Harvard Medical School, working in Dr. Mike Carroll's lab on the role of microglia and T cells in the neurodegenerative disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and then as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Tom maniatis’s lab on the same research area. To study the neurobiology of pain, Isaac worked in Dr. Clifford Woolf's lab at Boston Children's Hospital, determining the role of nociceptor neurons and pain in bacterial host defense. Isaac's personal interests include kayaking, reading, and spending time with his wife and two kids.

Graduate Students

  1. Kimbria Blake


    Ph.D. Student in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS)

    B.S. in Biochemistry - Rochester Institute of Technology

    Kimbria was born in California and since then has lived in Canada, Michigan, Ohio, New York, and now Massachusetts. She earned her B.S in Biochemistry at the Rochester Institute of Technology. As an undergraduate she worked with Dr. Suzanne O'Handley on characterizing potential novel antibiotic targets. Kimbria is now pursuing her PhD in the BBS program at Harvard. In Dr. Chiu's lab she is currently focusing on S. aureus toxins and their ability to produce pain. In her free time she enjoys cooking, knitting, and reading.

  1. Nicole Lai


    Ph.D. Student in Biological and Biomedical Sciences (BBS)

    B.A./M.A. in Neuroscience- Wesleyan University

    Nicole was born in Hong Kong and came to the USA in 2004 to earn her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Neuroscience at Wesleyan University, CT. She worked in Dr. David Bodznick's laboratory to characterize the plasticity of sensory processing signals in fish, and showed that the neural firing patterns were specific, independent, and additive. After graduating, she worked in Dr. Sylvie Le Gall's laboratory at the Ragon Institute and studied antigen processing mechanisms during HIV infection. In conjunction with members of the lab, she found that differential HIV epitope production by dendritic cells and macrophages impacted subsequent recognition by anti-viral CD8+ T cells. Nicole is a graduate student in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences program at HMS. Currently in Dr. Isaac Chiu's lab, her research interests include investigating the interactions between nociceptor neurons and the microbiota of the skin, specifically in relation to pain production and microbial homeostasis.

Postdoctoral Fellows

  1. Pankaj Baral


    Ph.D. in Microbiology - Mahidol University, Thailand

    Pankaj was born in Nepal. He did a Masters in microbiology at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He worked at Dr. Pongsak Utaisincharoen lab, Mahidol University, Thailand during his PhD in the projects related to immunopathogenesis of Burkholderia pseudomallei, a Tier 1 select agent. He found that this agent (i.e. B. psedomallei) is able to modulate the key TLR signaling pathways during infection in host cells for its intracellular lifestyle. He completed his PhD in 2013 and moved to Dr Samithamby Jeyaseelan lab at Louisiana State University for the postdoctoral training, where he worked in a multiple projects related to the host innate immunity in bacterial pneumonia and microbial sepsis. He found the key role of neutrophil chemoatttractant protein, CXCL1, in regulating the major host defense mechanisms during Gram-positive bacterial pneumonia. In another project, he discovered a novel immuno-regulating role of NLRP10 protein in microbial sepsis. Currently, at Dr Chiu lab, his major focus is on understanding the interaction of sensory neurons, immune cells and pathogen during pulmonary bacterial infection, particularly in investigating the impact of such interaction on lung inflammation and host defenses. Pankaj personal interests include hiking, traveling and reading.

  1. Melissa Musser


    Clinical fellow - Boston Children’s Hospital

    Melissa was born and raised in Amarillo, TX. In her time outside residency and lab, she and her husband enjoy finding good food around the city, being beer snobs and spending time with their energetic border collie/lab mix, Charlie.

  1. Felipe Ribeiro


    Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology - State University of Londrina, Brazil

    Felipe was born and grew up in Londrina, a city located in the south of Brazil. He earned his B. S. in Biomedicine and his Master`s degree in Experimental Pathology at the State University of Londrina (UEL). He has been working with prof. Dr. Waldiceu Ap. Verri Jr. on how inflammation contribute to induce pain, focusing on the role of cytokines and reactive oxygen species. Felipe continued in the same program for his PhD and now is working in Chiu`s lab to describe the mechanisms by which bacterial infections cause pain and the role of neurons in the course of infection

  1. Tiphaine Voisin


    Ph.D. in Neurosciences- University of Montpellier, France

    Tiphaine was born in Nantes, a city on the west coast of France. She obtained her Master’s degree in Health Biology at the University of Montpellier in the south of France. For her PhD, she worked in Dr. Philippe Lory’s lab on the metal/redox modulation of the calcium channel Cav3.2 in the pain pathway. In collaboration with Dr. Emmanuel Bourinet, she showed that DRG neurons from mice lacking this modulation had an altered excitability. Currently in Dr. Chiu’s lab, she is interested in the interaction between the sensory neurons and the immune system and how it plays a role during itch and pain.

  1. Nicole Yang


    Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering - MIT

    Nicole received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT. For her graduate work in Dane Wittrup's group, she developed bacterial pore-forming toxins as a cytoplasmic delivery tool for protein and siRNA payloads. Currently she is investigating the interaction between anthrax toxins and nociceptors and their effect on pain.

Visiting Scientists

  1. Hailian Shi


    Ph.D. in Traditional Chinese Medicine-- Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China

    Hailian was born and grew up in Zhejiang Province, China. She attended Ningbo University, China and earned a B.S. in Biological Science. She received her Ph.D. in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Shanghai University. She then became an Associate Professor at Shanghai University. In the first years, she has done research on gastrointestinal cancer treatment with natural chemical compounds from traditional chinese medicine. Later, she became interested in neuropharmacology with TCM and demonstrated the pathological/neuropharmalogical mechanismas of neuropsychiatric disorders based on the gastrointestinal tract through neuro-immune interaction. Now, in Dr. Chiu's lab, she is interested in how gut microbiota affects gut motility and visceral pain. Hailian's personal interests include growing flowers and reading.

Undergraduate Students

  1. Meghna Bist


    Meghna will be graduating with a B.S in Biochemistry from Northeastern University. She enjoys playing the piano, learning new languages, and traveling. She wishes to pursue a career in medicine, most likely involved in pediatrics.

  1. Michelle Heyang


    Michelle is a third year undergraduate from Northeastern University pursing a BS in Behavioral Neuroscience. She is interested in research related to neurobiology of pain and is currently working with Nicole. 

  1. James Searson


    James is a third year undergraduate Behavioral Neuroscience major from Northeastern University. He is currently working with Tiphaine on her project, and is interested in neuroscience research of all kinds.

Former Lab Members

  1. Kaitlin Goldstein


    B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience - Northeastern University

    Kaitlin is attending veterinary school at Midwestern University in Arizona.

  1. Yibing (Michelle) Wei


    B.S. in Life Sciences -- Nankai University, China

    Yibing is finishing her undergraduate degree at Nankai Univserity in China.

  1. Yan Zhou


    Ph.D./M.D. in Medical Microbiology - Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

    Yan is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Darren Higgin's lab at Harvard Medical School

  1. Rianne Haarsma


    B.S. in Biomedical Sciences- University of Groningen, Netherlands

    Rianne is attending Medical School in the Netherlands.

  1. Balthasar Heesters


    Ph.D. in Immunology - Utrecht University, Netherlands

    Balthasar is a postdoctoral fellow in the Netherlands.