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Charles Surh, Ph.D.

Professor Adjunct
Department of Immunology and Microbiology
California Campus
Laboratory Website
Scripps VIVO Scientific Profile
(858) 784-2006

Research Focus

Factors Regulating Mature T cell Homeostasis
We are interested in defining the factors that regulate survival and homeostasis of various populations of mature T cells under physiological conditions. Recently, we and others have established that “homeostatic” signals are largely derived from contact with three related cytokines, interleukin (IL) -2, IL-7 and IL-15. Our aim is to further define how these and other homeostatic signals support T cell homeostasis and how various subsets of T cells co-exist while competing for overlapping sets of signals. In addition, since the homeostatic cytokines are essential for survival, expansion and effector function of nearly all populations of T cells, we are also interested in exploring their therapeutic potentials for modulating T cell populations in cancer or autoimmune patients.
Modulation of Immunity Towards Commensal Antigens
Although one of the main purposes of the immune system is eliminate foreign antigens, it co-exists peacefully with immense amounts of foreign antigens originating from the commensal microflora, food and innocuous environmental antigens that reside at or enter the mucosal tissues. How such a truce is established between the immune system and the commensal antigens is largely unclear. We are interested in defining the role of T cells in establishing the tolerance to commensal antigens.


Ph.D., Biology, University of California, Davis, 1989

Professional Experience

1989-2017 Professor Adjunct, Immunology and Microbial Science (IMS), The Scripps Research Institute

Awards & Professional Activities

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar Ho-Am Prize in Medicine, 2007

Selected References

All Publications

Martin CE, Kim, DM, Sprent J, Surh CD.  Is IL-7 from dendritic cells essential for the homeostasis of CD4+ T cells? Nat Immunol. 2010 Jul;11(7):547-8; author reply 548.

Létourneau S, van Leeuwen EMM, Krieg C, Martin C, Pantaleo G, Sprent J, Surh CD, Boyman O. IL-2/anti-IL-2 antibody complexes show strong biological activity by avoiding interaction with IL-2 receptor a subunit CD25. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Feb 2;107(5):2171-6. Epub 2010 Jan 19.

 Surh CD, Sprent J. Homeostasis of naïve and memory T cells. Immunity 29:848-862 (2008).

Boyman O, Ramsey C, Kim K, Sprent J, and Surh CD.  IL-7/anti-IL-7 mAb complexes restore T cell development and induce homeostatic T cell expansion without lymphopenia. J. Immunol. 180:7265-75 (2008).

Purton JF, Tan JT, Rubinstein MP, Kim DM, Sprent J, Surh CD. Anti-viral CD4+ memory T cells are IL-15 dependent. J Exp Med. 204:951-61 (2007).

Boyman O, Kovar M, Rubinstein MP, Surh CD, Sprent J. Selective stimulation of T cell subsets with antibody-cytokine immune complexes. Science 311:1924-7 (2006).

Kieper WC, Troy A, Burghardt JT, Ramsey C., Lee JY, Jiang H-Q, Dummer W, Shen H, Cebra JJ, Surh CD. Cutting Edge: Recent immune status determines the source of antigens that drive homeostatic T cell expansion. J Immunol. 174:3158-63 (2005).

Tan, J.T., B. Ernst, W.C. Kieper, E. LeRoy, J. Sprent, and C.D. Surh.  Interleukin (IL)-15 and IL-7 jointly regulate homeostatic proliferation of memory phenotype CD8+ cells but are not required for memory phenotype CD4+ cells.  J. Exp. Med. 195:1523-1532 (2002).

Tan, J.T., E. Dudl, E. LeRoy, R. Murray, J. Sprent, K.I. Weinberg, and C. D. Surh.  IL-7 is critical for homeostatic proliferation and survival of naïve T cells.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98:8732-7 (2001).

Ernst, B., D.-S. Lee, J. M. Chang, J Sprent and C. D. Surh.  The peptide ligands mediating positive selection in the thymus control T cell survival and homeostatic proliferation in the periphery.  Immunity 11:173-181 (1999).


Surh Website