Michael Dee Gunn, MD

Professor of Medicine
Professor in Immunology
Associate Professor in Pathology
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Campus mail CARL Building Room 180B, Durham, NC 27703
Phone (919) 681-0840
Email address michael.gunn@duke.edu

The focus of my work is on understanding how dendritic cells, monocytes, and macrophages regulate immune responses, contribute to specific disease pathologies, and can be manipulated to stimulate or inhibit specific immune responses. We are also using our knowledge of immunology to develop diagnostics and therapeutics for a variety of human diseases. 

Lab History 

The lab started with our discovery of the lymphoid chemokines, which regulate the migration of lymphocytes and dendritic cells to and within secondary lymphoid organs.  We identified the chemokine (CCL21) that mediates the entry of naïve T cells and activated dendritic cells into lymph nodes and the chemokine (CXCL13) that mediates the entry of B cells into lymphoid follicles.  Our focus then shifted to understanding how specific cell types, primarily dendritic cells, and cell migration events regulate immune responses.  We identified murine plasmacytoid dendritic cells, the cell type that causes pulmonary immune pathology during influenza infection, the dendritic cell type that stimulates Th1 immune responses, and the cell type that induces neuronal injury in Alzheimer's disease.  Our current work continues these basic studies while applying our findings to models of human disease. 

Current Research 

Identification and characterization of inflammatory cell populations in models of human disease – We have developed advanced methods of flow cytometric analysis that allows us to quantify and fully characterize all inflammatory cell types in murine and human tissues.  Using these methods, we are working to identify the cells that mediate a variety of immune pathologies.  Examples include the identification of immune-stimulatory and immune-suppressive cell types in brain tumors, identification of the cells that induce vascular changes pulmonary hypertension, and characterization of the inflammatory response to a variety of infectious pathogens.

Tumor immune therapeutics – We have developed a novel cellular vaccine strategy for the treatment of cancer.  This strategy is much simpler, more cost effective, more clinically feasible, and much more efficacious than classic dendritic cell vaccines.  We are now testing this vaccine in various preclinical tumor models including melanoma and glioblastoma and will soon be advancing it to initial human clinical trials.

Treatment of Acute Lung Injury – We have identified the first small molecule pharmacologic agent that is effective in reducing respiratory dysfunction, vascular leak, tissue injury, and mortality during Acute Lung Injury.  We are currently validating this agent in animal models of chemical-induced ALI and testing its efficacy in reducing ALI caused by other agents such as influenza and smoke inhalation.  We hope to develop this agent as the first effective pharmacologic treatment for ALI in humans.

Development of recombinant antibodies as diagnostic reagents – Our lab has developed novel methods to generate recombinant single chain antibodies using phage display technology.  We are currently using these methods to generate pathogen-specific antibodies for use in diagnostic tests for a variety of human bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.  In collaboration with Duke Biomedical Engineering, we are testing the use of our antibodies in a novel diagnostic assay platform to develop point-of-care assays for the diagnosis of infections by agents such as Zika virus, Dengue virus, Salmonella typhi, and Aspergillus fumigatus.

Education and Training

  • Fellowship in Cardiology, Cardiology, University of California, San Francisco, 0018
  • Internship and Residency, Internal Medicine, Parkland Health & Hospital System, 0018
  • M.D., UT Southwestern Medical School, 1983


Huang, Min-Nung, Lowell T. Nicholson, Kristen A. Batich, Adam M. Swartz, David Kopin, Sebastian Wellford, Vijay K. Prabhakar, et al. “Antigen-loaded monocyte administration induces potent therapeutic antitumor T cell responses.” J Clin Invest 130, no. 2 (February 3, 2020): 774–88. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI128267.

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Ren, Jiafa, Jiandong Zhang, Nathan P. Rudemiller, Robert Griffiths, Yi Wen, Xiaohan Lu, Jamie R. Privratsky, Michael D. Gunn, and Steven D. Crowley. “Twist1 in Infiltrating Macrophages Attenuates Kidney Fibrosis via Matrix Metallopeptidase 13-Mediated Matrix Degradation.” J Am Soc Nephrol 30, no. 9 (September 2019): 1674–85. https://doi.org/10.1681/ASN.2018121253.

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Chandramohan, Vidyalakshmi, Xuhui Bao, Xin Yu, Scott Parker, Charlotte McDowall, Yen-Rei Yu, Patrick Healy, et al. “Improved efficacy against malignant brain tumors with EGFRwt/EGFRvIII targeting immunotoxin and checkpoint inhibitor combinations.” J Immunother Cancer 7, no. 1 (May 29, 2019): 142. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40425-019-0614-0.

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Chongsathidkiet, Pakawat, Christina Jackson, Shohei Koyama, Franziska Loebel, Xiuyu Cui, S Harrison Farber, Karolina Woroniecka, et al. “Author Correction: Sequestration of T cells in bone marrow in the setting of glioblastoma and other intracranial tumors.” Nat Med 25, no. 3 (March 2019): 529. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-019-0355-0.

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Rivera, Phillip D., Richa Hanamsagar, Matthew J. Kan, Phuong K. Tran, David Stewart, Young Chan Jo, Michael Gunn, and Staci D. Bilbo. “Removal of microglial-specific MyD88 signaling alters dentate gyrus doublecortin and enhances opioid addiction-like behaviors.” Brain Behav Immun 76 (February 2019): 104–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2018.11.010.

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Achanta, S., B. Liu, M. A. Gentile, A. Caceres, D. J. Behm, M. E. Burgert, M. H. Costell, I. M. Cheifetz, M. D. Gunn, and S. E. Jordt. “TRPV4 Inhibitor Improves Pulmonary Function and Oxygen Saturation in a Pig Translational Model of Chlorine Gas-Induced Acute Lung Injury.” In American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 199. AMER THORACIC SOC, 2019.


Yu, Y. A., J. Daly, S. Phelan, R. I. Cumming, A. Birukova, Y. Malakhau, J. L. Ingram, M. D. Gunn, L. G. Que, and R. M. Tighe. “Replacement of Fetal-Derived with Bone Marrow-Derived Pulmonary Resident Macrophages Reduces House Dust Mite-Induced Airway Hyperresponsiveness.” In American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 199. AMER THORACIC SOC, 2019.


Smith, Jeffrey S., Lowell T. Nicholson, Jutamas Suwanpradid, Rachel A. Glenn, Nicole M. Knape, Priya Alagesan, Jaimee N. Gundry, et al. “Biased agonists of the chemokine receptor CXCR3 differentially control chemotaxis and inflammation.” Sci Signal 11, no. 555 (November 6, 2018). https://doi.org/10.1126/scisignal.aaq1075.

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Privratsky, Jamie R., Jiandong Zhang, Xiaohan Lu, Nathan Rudemiller, Qingqing Wei, Yen-Rei Yu, Michael D. Gunn, and Steven D. Crowley. “Interleukin 1 receptor (IL-1R1) activation exacerbates toxin-induced acute kidney injury.” Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 315, no. 3 (September 1, 2018): F682–91. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajprenal.00104.2018.

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