A portrait of Gloria Choi

Gloria Choi

Mark Hyman Jr. Career Development Associate Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Investigator in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Contact Info

Office: 46-5023
Website: Choi Lab

Administrative Assistant

Natalie Soares (Lab Manager)

Choi’s lab studies the interaction of the immune system with the brain and the effects of that interaction on neurodevelopment, behavior and mood. For example, she is particularly interested in learning how cytokines, families of proteins that immune cells use to communicate, may act as neuromodulators that influence the development and activity of neurons in the cortex.

With this focus, Choi’s team has published several key insights that help explain how the maternal microbiome and immune activation during pregnancy can elevate the risk of offspring developing neurodevelopmental disorders.

In a 2016 paper in Science, Choi and collaborators showed in a mouse model of maternal immune activation that a particular type of T lymphocyte immune cell and its secretion of the cytokine interleukin-17a (IL-17a), mediated maternal immune activation and the development of autism-like behavioral abnormalities in offspring. The collaboration then followed with two papers in Nature in September 2017. One showed the phenomenon was further mediated by the presence of maternal intestinal bacteria that promote T cell differentiation.  The other showed that the effect of IL-17a in the brain was focused in the S1DZ region of the cortex where they observed a deficit of neural inhibition. The team showed that by intervening to reduce excess neural activity, they could mitigate behavioral abnormalities associated with maternal infection.

Motivated by those findings, Choi’s long-term translational goal is to develop ways to assess the risk for individual patients, prevent the development of disease, and mitigate it post-development. Also, because her research has identified the S1DZ region of the cortex, which is hypothesized to be important for proprioception, as being particularly crucial, she is also studying the connection between proprioception and social behavior.

In earlier work Choi’s lab studied how sensory stimuli, such as smells, drive behavioral responses and internal states depending on past experience.

Choi joined the faculty of MIT's Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 2013 and The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory in 2019. She received her bachelor’s degree from University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. from Caltech, where she studied with David Anderson. She was a postdoctoral research scientist in the laboratory of Richard Axel at Columbia University.

2014  Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow

2014  Cell ‘s 40 under 40

2015  The Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Professorship

2017  NARSAD Independent Investigator Award

2018  The Peter Gruss Young Investigator Award

2019  Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation (NLMFF) Career Development Award

2021  Mark Hyman, Jr. Career Development Professorship

2021  Carol and Gene Ludwig Award for Early Career Research

2022 Kenneth Rainin Foundation Innovator Award

Featured publications are below. For a full list visit the lab website linked above.

April 2, 2024
Kim, E., Huh, J.R. & Choi, G.B. Nat Immunol (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41590-024-01797-x
March 20, 2023
Liu Yang, Jun R. Huh, Gloria B. Choi, Current Opinion in Neurobiology, Volume 80, 2023, ISSN 0959-4388,
November 2, 2022
Neuron, Volume 110, Issue 21, P3415-3417,
December 7, 2021
Eunha Kim, Donggi Paik, Ricardo N. Ramirez, Delaney G. Biggs, Youngjun Park, Ho-Keun Kwon, Gloria B. Choi*, Jun R. Huh*, Immunity, Available online 7 December 2021
March 31, 2021
Jeong-Tae Kwon, Changhyeon Ryu, Hyeseung Lee, Alec Sheffield, Jingxuan Fan, Daniel H. Cho, Shivani Bigler, Heather A. Sullivan, Han Kyung Choe, Ian R. Wickersham, Myriam Heiman & Gloria B. Choi. Nature (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03413-6

The 'Fever Effect' May Unlock New Autism Treatment

A portrait of Gloria Choi
May 16, 2024

Autism symptoms sometimes improve amid fever, so a research team will study how to make that a therapy

May 8, 2024
New Research
With support from The Marcus Foundation, an MIT neuroscientist and a Harvard Medical School immunologist will study the “fever effect” in an effort to devise therapies that mimic its beneficial effects.

New grant to study possibility of an immunotherapy for autism

November 2, 2023
New Research
Picower Institute-based collaboration will study mechanisms that might enable peripheral immune cells to deliver a potentially therapeutic molecule to the brain.

Immune & Inflamed

March 1, 2023
Research Feature
Neuroscientists are finding that immune system activity within the brain and the body has important impacts on mental health and behavior

Q&A with Gloria Choi

A portrait of Gloria Choi
November 2, 2022

Building a bridge between neuroscience and immunology

October 14, 2022
Picower People
Gloria Choi’s studies of how the immune system and nervous system influence each other could yield new approaches to treating neurological disorders.

To the clinic!

October 4, 2022
Research Feature
When fundamental research yields discoveries with medical potential, Picower Institute professors find ways to test whether they’ll help patients.

Aging Brain Initiative awards fund 5 new ideas to study, fight neurodegeneration

April 20, 2022
New Research
Competitive seed grants launch yearlong investigations of novel hypotheses about potential causes, biomarkers, treatments of Alzheimer’s and ALS.

Research finds potential mechanism linking autism, intestinal inflammation

December 7, 2021
Research Findings
Moms infected during pregnancy who produce elevated levels of the cytokine IL-17a may have microbiome alterations that prime offspring for aberrant immune responses later in life, mouse study suggests

'What Were you Thinking?'

September 20, 2021
Research Feature
How brain circuits integrate many sources of context to flexibly guide behavior

Diversity Statement: The Choi Lab is committed to developing a climate that acknowledges and embraces diversity, supporting a culture that fosters inclusion, and actively pursuing equity. We believe that welcoming differences of opinion, experience, identity, and perspectives helps build a stronger community. We are committed to supporting those affected by historical injustices and to participating in outreach, mentorship, recruitment and upholding a progressive departmental Strategic Plan for people of all marginalized and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Matias Andina

Laboratory Technician


Daniel Cho

Graduate Student



Maria Carolina Fabio, Ph.D.

Visiting Professor



Mengyang Feng, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow



Tomoe Ishikawa, Ph.D

Postdoctoral Fellow



Jeong Tae Kwon, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow



Byeongjun Lee, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow



Irene Davila Mejia

Laboratory Technician



Changhyeon Ryu, MD-Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow



Caitlin Schneider, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow


Natalie Soares

Laboratory Manager



You-Hyang Song, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow



Liu Yang, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow



Yasmin Yarden, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow


Xiaoying Zhang

Laboratory Technician


Former Lab Members:

Nora Benavidez – Graduate Student, USC

Shivani Bigler -Graduate Student, Columbia University

Han Kyoung Choe – PI, DGIST

Jingxuan Fan -- Graduate Student, Harvard

Joo Yeon Kim - Director, CNS division, Standigm Inc.

Hunter King – Graduate Student, MIT

Daniel Montgomery – Graduate Student, MIT

Ashley Park – Medical Student, University of Michigan

Leila May Pascual – Laboratory Technician , Brandeis University

Michael Reed – Research Scientist, Biogen

Keenan Ronayne – Laboratory Technician, Washington University in St. Louis

Alec Sheffield – Graduate Student, Yale University

Yeong Shin Yim, Ph.D. - PI, University of Pennsylvania Medical School