Amy Barczak, M.D.

Lab Info:

Principal Investigator: Amy Barczak, M.D.

Office/Location: 55 Fruit Street

Phone: (857) 268-7143


Category: Members, Ragon Members

Dr. Amy Barczak is an Associate Member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is also an Assistant Physician in Infectious Diseases at MGH.


Dr. Barczak studies the factors that contribute to variable pathogenesis of tuberculosis (TB). TB is the leading cause of death from infection around the world as well as the leading cause of death in individuals living with HIV. Infection with the causative agent, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), can result in a spectrum of outcomes, from bacterial sterilization, to intermediate-term bacterial control, to active disease. A complex array of host and bacterial factors contribute to the outcome of each infection event, yet the understanding of the role of each factor in driving outcome remains limited. Dr. Barczak’s research focuses on two main areas:


1. “Seeing” TB: understanding how individual components of innate immune recognition culminate in the observed macrophage response to infection. Macrophages are among the earliest cells infected by Mtb and play a role in pathogenesis throughout the course of infection. Dr. Barczak’s group studies the ways that macrophages “see” and respond to invading Mtb and, conversely, on the ways that the bacterium manipulates that recognition to promote its own survival. Developing a molecular understanding of the interactions that promote or undermine infection control will ultimately allow researchers to develop strategies to “tune” responses to favor host control of infection.


2. Identifying and targeting components of inflammation that drive host tissue destruction without promoting sterilization. Inflammation in the context of infection is often visualized on a linear scale with an intermediate level of inflammation required to control infection without driving unnecessary tissue damage. While some components of inflammation are necessary for bacterial killing, other components are likely to contribute to tissue destruction without facilitating bacterial control. Dr. Barczak is interested in identifying molecular factors that promote only tissue destruction and ultimately targeting those factors with adjunctive host-directed therapies.


Dr. Barczak is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Claflin Distinguished Scholar Award and the Morton N. Swartz Transformative Scholar Award in Infectious Diseases at MGH. She received a BA in chemistry from Amherst College and an MD from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Barczak completed residency, fellowship, and postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School and MGH.


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