Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D.
Professor, President Emeritus
Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation, Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research
"My dad always wanted to be a weather forecaster. He was fascinated by atmospheric changes and studied books on meteorology. As a boy, he taught me a lot about the forces of nature and instilled in me intense curiosity and a sense of wonder that I think eventually led to my career in science."


Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., and his team study T cells – white blood cells responsible for recognizing and responding to foreign invaders, such as microbes. The laboratory focuses on a subset of T cells, that recognize glycolipids, or combinations of sugar and fat. Their research seeks to investigate how these T cells, called natural killer T cells (NKT), survive, grow, and regulate other immune cell types.

NKT cells apparently regulate a variety of immune responses, including the response to tumors and certain infectious agents. They also assist in the prevention of autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes (an immune attack on the pancreas) and multiple sclerosis (an immune attack on the nerves). The NKT cells respond rapidly and help other cells become activated. A glycolipid that activates these cells is currently in clinical trials in Australia, Japan, and Europe for treatment of metastatic cancer and hepatitis C virus infection.

A second area of research is the development of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and an immune-mediated disease of the intestine, which include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The uncontrolled response of white blood cells in the intestine leads to chronic inflammation. Using experimental models they developed, Dr. Kronenberg and his team are identifying molecules responsible for causing this poorly regulated immune response in the digestive tract.

Featured publications

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Lab Members


Research Projects

Mucosal Immunology and IBD

A major area of research in our laboratory is the regulation of mucosal immunity. We have collaborated extensively with the

NKT Cell Immunology

Vα14 invariant NKT (Vα14 iNKT) cells are a population of T lymphocytes that have several unique characteristics; many of these


From the lab

Jun 15, 2023 Behind the Science

LJI's Immunometabolism Core gives researchers a closer look at how cells gather energy to fight disease

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Awards & Honors

  • American Association of Immunologists Distinguished Fellow (inaugural class), 2019
  • Distinguished Immunology Speaker, University of Basel Immunology Community, Basel Switzerland, 2017
  • American Association of Immunologists Distinguished Service Award, 2016
  • Most Admired CEO (large nonprofit category) awarded by the San Diego Business Journal 2016
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2015
  • Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Highly Cited Scientist, 2007
  • NIH NIAID Merit (R37) Award, 2006
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund Visiting Professor in Basic Biomedical Sciences (Harvard University), 2002
  • Roy and Robert Kroc Distinguished Professor in Medicine and Immunology, UC Davis, 2000
  • R.F. and E.A. Dwyer Award for Excellence of the Jonsson Cancer Center, 1993
  • NIH Postdoctoral Training Grant Fellowship
  • NIH Predoctoral Training Grant Fellowship