Boston Children's Hospital
Harvard Medical School
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The fruit fly Drosophila melanogasterrepresents one of the best genetic models to understand evolutionarily conserved biological processes.  Studies in this organism led to the discovery of the Toll family of microbe-detection receptors, whose function is conserved throughout evolution.  Because the signaling pathways encoded in fly genome are often simpler than their mammalian counterparts, studies in flies can reveal novel (and/or evolutionarily conserved) principles that govern the operation of innate immune signaling pathways.  The Kagan lab uses Drosophila as a model to ask in vivo questions about the design of innate immune signaling pathways, as well as to reveal aspects of immunity that are unique to insects.