A portrait of Gloria Choi

Gloria Choi

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 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.

2018 Peter Gruss Young Investigator Award

2014 Sloan Research Fellow

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

February 26, 2016
Choi, G.B., Yim, Y.S., Wong, H., Kim, S.D., Kim, H.J., Kim, S.W., Hoeffer, C.A., Littman, D., and Huh, J.R., Science. 351(6276):933-9
July 1, 2015
Choe, H.K., Reed, M.D., Benavidez, N., Montgomery, D., Soares, N., Yim, Y.S., and Choi. G.B., Neuron. 87: 152-163
September 15, 2011
Choi, G.B., Stettler, D., Kallman, B., Shaskar, S., Fleishman, A., and Axel, R., Cell. 146: 1004-15
May 18, 2005
Choi, G.B., Dong, H.W., Murphy, A., Eichele, G., Yancopoulos, G.D., Valenzuela, D.M., Swanson, L., and Anderson D.J., Neuron 46: 647-60
September 13, 2001
Choi, G.*, Zhou, Q.*, and Anderson, D.J., Neuron 31: 791-807.

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

mandina@mit.edu

 

Daniel Cho

Graduate Student

danielhc@mit.edu

 

Mengyang Feng, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

myfeng@mit.edu

 

Tomoe Ishikawa, Ph.D

Postdoctoral Fellow

ishikawa@mit.edu

 

Jeong Tae Kwon, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

jtkwon@mit.edu

 

Byeongjun Lee, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

bj1ee@mit.edu

 

Irene Davila Mejia

Laboratory Technician

idavilam@mit.edu

 

Changhyeon Ryu, MD-Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

ryuc@mit.edu

 

Natalie Soares

Laboratory Manager

nsoares@mit.edu

 

Liu Yang, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

willow66@mit.edu

 

Yasmin Yarden, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

yasminya@mit.edu

 

Yeong Shin Yim, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

ysyim@mit.edu

 

Xiaoying Zhang

Laboratory Technician

xyz2272@mit.edu


Former Lab Members:

Nora Benavidez – Graduate Student, USC

Shivani Bigler -Graduate Student, Columbia University

Han Kyoung Choe – Principle Investigator, DGIST

Jingxuan Fan -- Graduate Student, Harvard

Joo Yeon Kim -Project Leader, Jonggeundang

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