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


Lin, Kaifeng Lisa, Shari Sweeney, Brian Donghoon Kang, Elizabeth Ramsburg, and Michael Dee Gunn. “CCR2-antagonist prophylaxis reduces pulmonary immune pathology and markedly improves survival during influenza infection.” J Immunol 186, no. 1 (January 1, 2011): 508–15. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1001002.

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Shelburne, Christopher P., Hideki Nakano, Ashley L. St John, Cheryl Chan, James B. McLachlan, Michael D. Gunn, Herman F. Staats, and Soman N. Abraham. “Mast cells augment adaptive immunity by orchestrating dendritic cell trafficking through infected tissues.” Cell Host Microbe 6, no. 4 (October 22, 2009): 331–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2009.09.004.

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Dolan, Sharron, Mark D. Gunn, Laura Biddlestone, and Andrea M. Nolan. “The selective metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 allosteric agonist AMN082 inhibits inflammatory pain-induced and incision-induced hypersensitivity in rat.” Behav Pharmacol 20, no. 7 (October 2009): 596–604. https://doi.org/10.1097/FBP.0b013e32832ec5d1.

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Nakano, Hideki, Kaifeng Lisa Lin, Manabu Yanagita, Chantal Charbonneau, Donald N. Cook, Terutaka Kakiuchi, and Michael D. Gunn. “Blood-derived inflammatory dendritic cells in lymph nodes stimulate acute T helper type 1 immune responses.” Nat Immunol 10, no. 4 (April 2009): 394–402. https://doi.org/10.1038/ni.1707.

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Chen, Yu-Hsun, Barbara D. Lipes, Daniel J. Kenan, Herman F. Staats, and Michael D. Gunn. “Identification of recombinant antibodies against multiple distinct toll-like receptors by homolog mining a single immune scFv phage library.” J Immunol Methods 340, no. 2 (January 30, 2009): 144–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jim.2008.10.013.

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Tighe, R. M., D. Jiang, M. D. Gunn, and P. W. Noble. “Arginase-1 Expression in CXCR3 Knockout Mice Identifies Alternatively Activated Macrophages after Non-Infectious Lung Injury.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 179 (January 1, 2009).


Schreiber, Olivia, Kathrin Steinwede, Nadine Ding, Mrigank Srivastava, Regina Maus, Florian Länger, Jana Prokein, et al. “Mice that overexpress CC chemokine ligand 2 in their lungs show increased protective immunity to infection with Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guérin.” J Infect Dis 198, no. 7 (October 1, 2008): 1044–54. https://doi.org/10.1086/591501.

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Lipes, Barbara D., Yu-Hsun Chen, Hongzheng Ma, Herman F. Staats, Daniel J. Kenan, and Michael Dee Gunn. “An entirely cell-based system to generate single-chain antibodies against cell surface receptors.” J Mol Biol 379, no. 2 (May 30, 2008): 261–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmb.2008.03.072.

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Kanda, Hidenobu, Rebecca Newton, Russell Klein, Yuka Morita, Michael D. Gunn, and Steven D. Rosen. “Autotaxin, an ectoenzyme that produces lysophosphatidic acid, promotes the entry of lymphocytes into secondary lymphoid organs.” Nat Immunol 9, no. 4 (April 2008): 415–23. https://doi.org/10.1038/ni1573.

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Lin, Kaifeng Lisa, Yasushi Suzuki, Hideki Nakano, Elizabeth Ramsburg, and Michael Dee Gunn. “CCR2+ monocyte-derived dendritic cells and exudate macrophages produce influenza-induced pulmonary immune pathology and mortality.” J Immunol 180, no. 4 (February 15, 2008): 2562–72. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.180.4.2562.

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