Our People

Franck Barrat, PhD, MD Scientific Advisor

Dr. Barrat is a Senior Scientist in the Autoimmunity and Inflammation Program at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. He is an expert in Toll Like Receptor (TLR) signaling, and the focus of his lab is the basic understanding of nucleic acid recognition in autoimmunity and in particular on the potential clinical benefit of interfering with Toll Like Receptor (TLR) signaling in human diseases.

Dr. Barrat’s lab uses both human and mouse approaches and has focused on the role of the nucleic-acid specific TLR7, TLR8 and TLR9 in inflammation. The other main focus of the lab is to better understand the biology of human plasmacytoid dendritic cells (PDCs). Human PDCs represent a link between innate and adaptive immunity. They can either produce massive amount of type I IFN and participate in anti-viral responses or they can mature, by expressing costimulatory molecules and losing their plasmacytoid morphology, to become effective antigen presenting cells that activate T cells. The Barrat Lab has shown that these 2 functions are induced following TLR signaling and can be differentially affected by the cytokine milieu and by the signaling molecules involved in the TLR pathway. Dr. Barrat’s Lab has also described that endosomal location – not physical form or valency –is the primary determinant of the signaling pathway utilized by TLR9 in human PDC. This unique role of PDC in immunity is a main interest in the lab and is at the basis of many potential clinical applications in particular for the treatment of cancer, allergies and viral infections.

Dr. Barrat started his career in the lab of Professor Fischer at Necker Children Hospital in Paris, France before moving to Palo Alto in 1998 to be a postdoctoral fellow at DNAX Research Institute. He worked at Dynavax Technologies for more than 12 years researching and developing TLR agonists and antagonists. He assumed his current position in 2013.

Dr. Barrat completed his undergraduate studies with a degree in Biochemistry at the University of Nice in France, where he also obtained a Master’s Degree in Pharmacology. He also has a Master’s Degree in Immunology from the Pasteur Institute, and completed his PhD in Immunology at the University of Paris.

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