Manish Butte, MD PhD


Manish J. Butte, MD PhD is the E. Richard Stiehm Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UCLA, and Division Chief of Immunology, Allergy, and Rheumatology. He holds a joint appointment in the UCLA Dept. of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG).

He studied Physics at Brown University where he earned his Sc.B. with honors in 1993, studying mathematical neural networks in Prof. Leon Cooper's group. During this time he developed software for Microsoft and Apple, and performed research at the National Institutes of Health. He earned his M.D. degree from the Brown University School of Medicine in 1996. He then studied protein crystallography under Prof. Robert Fletterick at UCSF and graduated with a Ph.D. in Biophysics in 2000. Returning to clinical training, he completed a Pediatrics residency at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in 2003 and a clinical fellowship in Allergy & Immunology at Boston Children's Hospital in 2006, where he specialized in the care of children with immunodeficiencies, autoimmunity, auto-inflammatory disorders, asthma, and allergies. During a joint post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School (under Prof. Arlene Sharpe) and in the Harvard Chemistry & Chemical Biology Dept. (under Prof. George Whitesides), he worked on T cell inhibitory pathways and development of microfabricated tools to capture and study immune cells.

He transitioned to Stanford University in 2009 to start his own lab in the Department of Pediatrics, with courtesy appointments in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Microbiology and Immunology. His lab addressed fundamental, long-standing questions in immunology using innovative nanotechnological approaches to visualize and manipulate cells. In November 2016, he was recruited to UCLA.

He was awarded the Stiehm Endowed Chair in 2019 and elected into the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 2021.

A major research focus of his lab is in understanding T cells, the major coordinating cells of the immune response, with a specific focus on mechanobiology. The group studies how mechanical forces influence cells, with projects spanning multiple scales from the molecular level (how receptors in T cells sense forces), to the cellular (why T cells vigorously push and pull upon other cells), to the tissue (how T cells are influenced by the mechanical microenvironment of diseased tissues). His lab has innovated tools and techniques in the use of biological atomic force microscopy (AFM) to interrogate cells and tissues. The lab has been studying the role of various cytoskeletal molecules in regulating T cell receptor and costimulatory receptor signaling. His group is developing nanofabricated tools to help T cells fight cancer and infections. His group is also developing new approaches for developing vaccines for T cells. There are projects in the lab related to T-cell metabolism.

The second major focus of his lab is in improving the diagnosis and treatment of patients with rare, genetic immune diseases (primary immunodeficiency and immune dysregulation diseases). The group has identified a transcriptional defect that underlies severe, invasive fungal infections with coccidiodiomycosis (Valley Fever), and has developed two new immunomodulatory treatment strategies that are being launched as clinical trials in 2020. His group has developed CyTOF (cytometry by time of flight mass spectrometry) as a diagnostic tool for immune diseases. There are projects in the lab to develop humanized mice to recapitulate human primary immunodeficiency diseases and treatments. His lab has developed capabilities to study novel disease-causing mutations across a number of diseases in children and adults. He is a funded co-investigator of the NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Network site at UCLA. Dr. Butte helped found and launch the California Center for Rare Diseases at UCLA, a group of doctors and scientsts dedicated to advancing the diagnosis, treatment, and cure of rare diseases.

Dr. Butte's lab trains undergraduate students, PhD students (in the IMMP and Biophysics program areas), post-doctoral fellows, and clinical fellows. The lab has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Jeffrey Modell Foundation, the Stanford Child Health Research Institute, and the generous philanthropy of donors.

Dr. Butte is clinically active, and is board certified in both Pediatrics and Allergy & Immunology. He cares for children and adults in an Immunology and Immunodeficiency Clinic, which is a Jeffrey Modell Foundation Diagnostic Center.

Dr. Butte is the Division Chief of Pediatric Immunology, Allergy, and Rheumatology at UCLA, which includes a headcount of three full-time and one part-time faculty in Allergy/Immunology, two full-time and two part-time faculty in Rheumatology, nine clinical fellows, four nurses, and three support staff. During his time as chief, the division has launched innovative food allergy programs incuding oral immunotherapy in the clinic (over 100 patients served per year). Dr. Butte helped lead the UCLA Food Allergy Center to launch its first seed grants in food allergy (2020-21), and has successfully rasised funds for a variety of other programs in Allergy, Immunology, and Pediatric Rheumatology. The division has successful fellowship training programs in Allergy & Immunology and Pediatric Rheumatology.

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